Gordon Wood is managing director of Dexter Wood & Partners. He is a former under 23 England rugby international and played for Harlequins and the Barbarians. He also runs the National Surveyors Sevens.
Wales actually played quite well in the first half for a change, but once again they were undone by the opposition scoring two tries while one of their players was in the sin bin. If the players do not learn from this 6 Nations they never will. In the professional era, good national teams can decide the result in just 10 minutes and all the sinbinings that I have seen this year have been fully justified. The referees handling/interpretation of scrums and the tackle area has come in for much justified criticism, but on yellow cards they have been spot on.
Ireland have to be congratulated once again - they scored the points when it mattered and each game a different player comes to the fore - a sign of a well organised and confident team. Wales didn't look as if they were going to win at any stage.
It was a beautiful warm weekend in the south east and I (along with many others!) was very pleased not to be at Murrayfield. I think the word "dire" sums up the game. The lawmakers/referees need to sort out the scrum and the breakdown. Neither team deserved to win, but it was Scotland with the lions share of possession, and having twice hit the uprights, they can count themselves unlucky not to have won the game. The defences were strong, but neither side really looked as if they would score a try, although Cussiter was superbly tackled by the prop Dan Cole when the line was beckoning.
France didn't quite ring up a cricket score, but they had the game won by half time and eased up with 15 minutes to go, allowing Italy two tries to make the score line more respectable. In reality, France dominated.
Ireland will now entertain Scotland at Croke Park. Scotland will try to replicate the passion of the England match, but there are two many experienced Irishmen to produce any other result but a home win. The Irish back row is immense, their front five battle hardened, and their backs take most of the half chances offered them.
Wales at home to Italy will not produce many fireworks as there is nothing at stake, although there will be much effort to stave off the Wooden Spoon in the unlikely event of Scotland beating Ireland. The attritional play of Italy up front over the whole tournament will have tired them, which should leave enough space for Shane and his merry men to put in some telling scores. A home win.
And so to Le Crunch - at least at the start of the tournament I thought it was going to be! Having seen England play so lamentably against Scotland and Italy, their only hope is to try to stifle the French. France have proved to be the form team, with an excellent ball winning pack, a very strong back row, and backs which run straight enabling room to be created. In addition, their support play has been exemplary. England do not have the firepower to stop this avalanche, even with the much needed return of Simon Shaw. It is good that Johnson has finally selected Foden and Flood, as Armitage and Wilkinson are not playing well. Flutey needs to keep much closer to his flyhalf. The return of Mike Tindall, to nullify the power of Bastareaud, will not make much difference as, like Armitage before, he has not had sufficient game time since his return from injury. It takes time to start performing well at the highest level. The French will show us how it is done - a home win by a good margin.
And a few words from the virtual French coach Monsieur Dupont. " Ah, I 'ave fooled you, my surpreese in the Italian game was not Yashvili, it was Marc Andreu - and he is only 5ft 5½"! Eh bien, eet eez Le Crunch, and thees time there will be no Waterloo. We are too good. Le Grand Chelem will be ours, and what better way to secure it than by beating Les Rosbifs. Marc Lievremont, who you all rubbished, 'as got it right with the way we play, and our discipline 'as been parfait. World Cup next year? Allez La France!"