Six Nations: Scotland do England big favour – Matt Dawson column


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Six Nations 2020: Amazing tries, Tuliagi ‘the pirate’ & huge hits in weekend’s best bits

Now that England v Italy is a title-deciding game, the match’s postponement because of coronavirus has taken on a different dynamic.

Scotland ended France’s Grand Slam hopeson Sunday, and even a bonus-point victory for Les Bleus against Ireland in the final round might not be enough to secure the title.

All of a sudden England, whobeat Wales on Saturday,are back into the title race but who says their final game against Italy is even going to happen?

In 2001 when games were postponed until the autumn because of foot-and-mouth disease, we knew relatively quickly when the game was going to be played.

This feels like the potential to play it is a lot more fluid. Where is the gap in the schedule? Is it pre-season, pre-autumn internationals, the end of this season?

I cannot see it being before next season because of what is happening with coronavirus.

It is such a tricky one. Before Scotland’s victory against France, England players would not have been waiting by the phone to find out when their match would be rescheduled.

It is not like they are going for a Grand Slam and they are going to beat Italy.

But now, with England ahead of France in the table on points difference, their thinking about the game gets sharpened.

On an individual level, the postponement means England scrum-half Ben Youngs is stuck on his 99th cap.

He would never admit it, but that must be a bit frustrating. It is an incredible achievement for any sportsperson to get 100 caps for their country.

There is no doubt in my mind that he will get there. He is not going to be worried about not getting another cap if he carries on playing like he did on Saturday.

I am really pleased he got man of the match, because he managed the game superbly well.

That is why he is in the team – the kicking strategy, the attacking strategy, organising the defence, the decisions, calming the atmosphere when all around you is getting a little bit hectic.

There were moments in the game against Wales where there needed to be a calm head amongst it all to make the big decisions, and Ben was making them

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Six Nations 2020: Scotland 28-17 France – highlights

‘Tuilagi red a poor decision’

I thought the red card for Manu Tuilagi’s tackle on George North was a poor refereeing decision.

It was a bad tackle but there were mitigating circumstances that take it down from a red to a yellow.

I am not convinced that if that was a World Cup final or if the score was 30-30 the referee Ben O’Keeffe would send him off.

It is a circumstantial red card where he is thinking he will not get in any bother by sending him off because there is shoulder to the head and England are 17 points ahead. It is going to be inconsequential to the outcome.

England head coach Eddie Jones said after the game that it was ridiculous and suggested O’Keeffe was Wales’ 16th man.

That is Eddie Jones being Eddie Jones. He is obviously not in the slightest bit worried about trying to win over fans or the media or be remembered as a successful coach who was a thoroughly likeable individual.

If you look at Warren Gatland when he was Wales head coach, he was still very prickly but he would do it in a clever, calculating way rather than an off-the-cuff, emotional comment like Eddie tends to do.

He distracts attention away from his players and it seems

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