Six Nations internationals: the following thoughts from David ‘Flats’ Flatman, former England, Saracens and Bath prop (who commentated on the Ireland v France match) –
On Scotland v Wales
“The risk with a talent like Louis Rees-Zammit is to over-hype him too early. With that in mind, I just want to say that he should be Lions Captain and Prime Minister.
“He’s more than just the fastest kid in school: he’s clever, he’s brave and he’s horrid to play against. It’s taken him all of about an hour and a half to become indispensable for Wales.
“Stuart Hogg reasserted his world-class threat at the weekend, not that he really needed to. Even now, his explosiveness can shock defenders, as well as people watching from their sofas.
“His courage to attack when others would play it safe, coupled with his physical ability, make him an absolute shoo-in for a starting Lions spot. As things stand, nobody else is coming close.
“Zander Fagerson’s red card was a red card. Rugby is changing and, as much as it all seems to be about the elite end of the game, the reality is the exact opposite.
“While the elite game is the most visible, it is rightly being used as a vehicle to make safer all those games of rugby that are played on muddy, isolated fields, away from specialist medical care and high definition cameras.
“Red cards like Fagerson’s are literally designed to make children safer on Sunday mornings.”
On Ireland v France
“While, for a period, it felt as if France might be doing their best to lose against Ireland, there was a stoicism and single-mindedness to Les Bleus that we haven’t seen for a long time.
“Not long ago, Ronan Kelleher’s opportunist score would have knocked the wind from the French but now, potentially in part due to Shaun Edwards’ ever-so-slightly-menacing presence, they didn’t let their heads drop.
“This was by no means France’s most scintillating win, but it felt significant. They never stopped launching themselves at Ireland.
“France will be tough to beat in this year’s tournament because, along with the talent we always knew about, they now have a lorry load of grit to fall back on.”
On England v Italy
“Jonny Hill was outstanding. He had the sort of game that could soon see him become a permanent fixture in this side, alongside Itoje.
“Hill just does it all, and does it well, with a tremendous and frankly enviable energy.
“My old eyes were liquid as Jack Willis screamed, clutching his damaged knee. He’s a top drawer player but sadly one cursed by injury. Please, please let him recover, stay injury-free for the rest of his career and take over the world.
“Top flight rugby, no matter what anybody at home wants to believe, is about winning and nothing else.
“Eddie Jones doesn’t get paid by the point. So for England to get the job done against a slightly improved Italy seems like an acceptable return.
“Wouldn’t it be great, though, to see all these wonderful players cutting loose and really enjoying themselves?
“The England team isn’t an exhibition team but I, and I imagine most of England’s supporters, would love them to try and be the Harlem Globetrotters for a few minutes.”
Flats, a regular pundit for BT Sport, Amazon Prime, Channel 5 and ITV, is available for TV or radio interviews.
Image courtesy of https://www.six-nations-guide.co.uk/2021/