Heroes and Zeros
Each week, Ruck.co.uk analyses how the stars of Rugby Union have performed over the last seven days identifying who have been the fearless heroes and the ill-fated zeros.
Despite being on the losing side, Scotland Skipper Greig Laidlaw put in a heroic display for the Dark Blues’ in Paris. He produced the Scots’ only score with a stunning kick and was ever dependable with his goal kicking. The 29-year old will be vital to any success Vern Cotter’s men have at the forthcoming World Cup.
If it’s possible England winger, Jonny May looked even faster than ever before and combined that superbly with his strength. He set England in motion with a try during their dazzling start against Ireland before defending relentlessly for the rest of the game, which had been an aspect of his play that has been criticized in the past.
Warren Gatland is likely to recall veteran scrum-half Mike Phillips to the Wales squad after the sickening injury suffered by Rhys Webb in Cardiff. The former British and Irish Lion, who has been capped by Wales 93 times since making his debut in 2003 now, aged 33, could step in. This will surely be his final opportunity to secure his legacy as one of the greatest Welsh rugby heroes of all-time.
With Scotland potentially on course for their first win in Paris since 1999, the pressure got too much for David Denton, who was sin-binned for the final ten minutes after a cynical foul on Mathieu Bastareaud. The loose forwards ill-discipline made him very much a zero among the Scotland fans, who for the second time this year were within touching distance of beating French at the Stade de France yet again fell agonizingly short.
Ireland has gone from seemingly being on course for potential World Cup glory to back-to-back warm-up defeats following their loss to England at Twickenham this weekend. Schmidt will now have pressure on him to iron out the kinks in his emerald green army’s armor. He will be hoping to have them better prepared for their World Cup opener, which should be a routine win against Canada on September 19th in Cardiff.
Leigh Halfpenny & Rhys Webb
The Welsh duos World Cup hopes are under serious threat after both were stretchered off during Wales win against Italy on Saturday night in Cardiff. Webb twisted his left leg under pressure at a ruck and underwent six minutes of treatment on the pitch. The second massive injury blow came when Halfpenny, without contact, awkwardly turned his right knee in the 69th minute while trying to field a kick. So with twelve days before the party starts, Wales could now be without two of their key players, ouch.