Calcutta Cup

The Six Nations is underway, and England begins with a win of the Calcutta Cup. Whilst a win is a win, there are several aspects of the game that don't sit right. Johnny Wilkinson's try definitely should not have been awarded, on the replay he was clearly in touch - the fourth official got it wrong. In addition, Johnny Wilkinson spent most of the first half bleeding from an open wound and he had blood on his shirt. He should have been sent to the blood bin to get repaired and to change his shirt - that's what it's there for.

The really annoying thing is that he has a place at all, after playing hardly any rugby in the last few months. Why did the place not go to someone like Alex King of Wasps? King has been kicking consistently well - what does it say to the rest of the hopefuls for a place in the national squad that despite how well they perform, someone with a name can keep their place after less than an hour on the pitch? He should have proved himself in his club games first.

It's true that Wilkinson scored a lot of the points, but most of those were down to the set-piece penalty kicks which could have been made by other kickers too. He got one drop goal (lovely) and a try (which he shouldn't have been given.... though it was a sterling effort).

On the upside, he did get stuck in there, and there did seem to be a morale boost from his presence. Don't get me wrong, he did make a great comeback, and in hindsight it was the right decision (before the game, the pub I was in organised a sweepstake on how long Wilkinson would last before injury sent him off!). However, it could so easily have been a disaster. Given the change in the coaching arrangements at England, why did the incoming coach not say 'the priority has to be to rebuild the team from the ground up, to gain experience for the future - even if that's at the expense of the six nations championship', and then start to play some of the younger generation?

When Wilkinson came on, the pub went crazy for a while - in much the same way that people reacted for Rooney in the 2006 world cup. Yes, these players have a lot to bring, and yes, when fit they are worth including... but to play them after injury, when they've not yet proved match fitness?

It all seems rather churlish, given that England did win, but...

Regardless, I've gained confidence that was lacking before, I did think the wooden spoon might be England's fate. Italy looks likely to take that. Where will England come now? It's hard to say... I don't see us winning, but other than that I think it's very open indeed.

We should beat Italy, but the next match is Ireland - that'll be hard fought.

Then it's France. Then Wales.