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Grayson column: Time to give serious thought to replacing Italy in 6N with SA


Watching England win the Six Nations left me with one overriding thought: Has the time not come to bring South Africa on board?

Owen Farrell’s team dismissed Italy despite not having played for eight months and spending half the game trying to shake off the rust.

Fair play to them for rebounding from that haunting World Cup final defeat by the Springboks in Japan almost exactly a year ago.

But let’s be honest, Italy for too long has been a fixture in which the only question is by how much the opposition will win.

Pondering whether the margin will be 30, 40 or 50 points shouldn’t be a conversation for a competitive tournament.

South Africa are world champions but not playing in either Six Nations or Rugby Championship

So I thought of the Boks, kicking their heels back home while both the Six Nations and Rugby Championship play on.

Imagine South Africa, a southern hemisphere superpower with a time zone far better suited to the north, taking their place.

It would shake the foundations of tradition, but what a tournament the Six Nations would become.

World Cup winner Paul Grayson’s Daily Mirror column is brought in association with CINCH


If ever was the time for such a radical change to be made it is now. Nothing in this pandemic is as it was. Innovation is called for.

Which brings me to England’s half-back selection, which has also remained largely unchanged for longer than I’d like.

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Ben Youngs has 100 caps and Owen Farrell soon will. No problem with that, both are terrific players.

Ben Youngs has been England’s starting scrum-half in 22 of last 27 Tests

My issue is with the development of the next generation, who have had no look-in when it comes to starting roles in the 10 and 9 jerseys.

It is another indictment of Italy’s lack of threat that Eddie Jones did not even bother with a back-up fly-half in Rome.

And while Youngs was excellent on his big night, it is high time Dan Robson, brilliant at 9 all season for Wasps, gets a start.

France scrum-half Antoine Dupont

Look how Antoine Dupont has taken France to another level since being given his chance ahead of Morgan Parra, who was tidy enough. Dupont is different class.

By saying Youngs can win 150 caps I hope Jones is trying to fire up Robson because two and a bit years out from a World Cup he needs to be starting Tests.

I really do hope England use the Autumn Nations Cup to develop their game as well as their squad.

England head coach Eddie Jones

Eddie won’t need telling that when his team went 10 points up in no time against Italy they should have gone on and shredded them, as New Zealand did to Australia.

Instead they carried on kicking the ball away. For England’s deeds to match their lofty ambitions, their decision making and ability to adapt on the hoof needs to improve.

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