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When minimum effort becomes a habit

➤ France did enough to grind out a victory against a spirited Scotland — but again performed way below their best, only showing some sort of interest in the match for about 20 minutes.

Sure, it was enough to win the match, but minimum effort easily becomes a habit. The team that were favourites to win the Rugby World Cup, does not exist at the moment. And the unspoken excuse that they are struggling without Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, is making matters worse.

If coach Fabien Galthié can do anything to sort out that don’t-care French attitude (and it’s not certain that he can), now would be the right time to start.

Scotland, once again playing the best rugby they know how, can be proud of their performance, losing the match in the last minute when a try was disallowed after minutes of replays. Gregor Townsend should reconsider his decision to give Finn Russell the captain’s armband.

Russell could one day be a great number 10 but at the moment he is making mistakes and his role of principal prima donna is not doing Scotland any good.

➤ The question was always about how (and not “if”) the Irish were going to beat Italy. The Italians, giving it all they’ve got, couldn’t do anything to stop the rampaging Irish from scoring six tries. Playing with 100% effort for a full 80 minutes when you’re leading by more than 40 points is very impressive. Coach Andy Farrell has not taken his foot off the pedal since the World Cup. Springboks take note!

➤ The England versus Wales match was exciting for the wrong reasons. England conceded a penalty try and then scored while serving two yellow cards. The unfortunate highlight of the game was George Ford’s conversion kick which was “charged down” under bizarre circumstances.

Last week Warren Gatland berated his team for playing “the worst first half he had ever seen” and then made several changes to the team. Perhaps if he had gone for stability and consistency he could have pulled off an illusive victory for Wales.

England’s win by two points was probably the right outcome. Oh, and Mr Gatland, take heart. You may very well squeeze a win out of Italy when you meet the Azzurri in three weeks.

Scotland 16-20 France

Try Scotland: Ben White

Tries France: Gael Fickou, Louis Bielle Biarrey

England 16-14 Wales

Tries England: Ben Earl, Fraser Dingwall

Try Wales: Alex Mann, penalty try

Ireland 36-0 Italy

Tries Ireland: Jack Crowley, Dan Sheehan (2), Jack Conan, James Lowe, Calvin Nash

Pictured above: France’s victory over Scotland.

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