Spirited Italy Eventually Outclassed By England In Six Nations Opener

England rugby player Jack Nowell

Chris Robshaw during an England pre-Six Nations training session at Pennyhill Park.

Less than 10 minutes after overtaking Matt Dawson's record of 55 starts for an England scrum-half, Youngs appeared to trap his left leg in a ruck and was left writhing in agony.

England's quest for an unprecedented hat-trick of Six Nations titles was launched by a 46-15 victory over Italy that produced a late flurry of tries.

Robshaw says: "The difference Eddie has made is on the mental side". The sides went in at the break with the vistors 17-10 ahead. He will tell players to work on two or three aspects and is very to the point.

"I am enjoying playing for him".

"We know we need to get our set-piece right, be defensively strong, and play with aggression and plenty of energy".

"As a player I have never had that before from a coach or a DoR [director of rugby]. It is all about running lines and defensive positions and it comes together pretty naturally on the pitch".

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Center-back Ben Te'o has been picked instead of Jonathan Joseph for England's Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on Sunday. I don't think we've scrummed as well as that in the time I've been in charge of England.

But how did Eddie Jones's men perform individually in Rome? Every morning at breakfast he will come in and speak to every single person on every table, go round and it gives you that personal touch. "Whatever it may be, he knows how to read people extremely well". The basis of the game - the scrum and the lineout - were good for us today. That is a side of coaching that can get forgotten: it is easy to put people down, but praise generates confidence that can go a long way.

"He's got a big match demeanour, he doesn't get too excited or too disappointed and gets on with the next play".

The champions exploded out of the blocks, with Anthony Watson scoring twice inside the opening ten minutes, but the overwhelming win only materialised in the closing stages.

But with Vunipola (arm), Nathan Hughes (knee) and Zach Mercer (illness) unfit, and the experienced James Haskell suspended, England have given a fourth cap to Simmonds, who made his Test debut against Argentina in November.

Italy finally settled into the game after conceding two tries, and had their best spell of the first half from a penalty won by number eight Sergio Parisse.


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