Fifteen observations around the highly-anticipated battle between England and Australia at Twickenham which resulted in a solid win for the northern giants.


Resurgent England? Their profile is, but not the rugby. The All Blacks in full flight would be far too good for England at their best. The All Blacks have a dozen backs with more skill than any of the Englishmen, and that England pack is hardly scary. Workmanlike more like. This England team might beat the All Blacks one game in six, if they were lucky. In other words, little has changed. Yet. Over to you Eddie Jones.

2) England's well-travelled Aussie coach Jones is fantastic for world rugby. He's a publicity magnet...ready Eddie WAS the build-up but the game didn't live up to its billing. Take away the atmosphere, and there was a lot of stodge and platform laying. Europe's magnificent rugby stadiums are often as much the stars as the games themselves.


3) England defended gloriously in the first quarter, when Australia were repeatedly denied tries. Some are portraying it as a poor England start, and they did make errors. But Australia were fantastic in the first 20. England re-grouped admirably, but they still play rugby out of the dark ages. No wonder Sir Clive Woodward is optimistic - they haven't progressed since the halcyon days of his 2003 World Cup winners. England are over-hyped for now, but the combo of few frills and glorious goalkicking shouldn't be underestimated either. Does Jones have some subtleties in store? Or more importantly, does he have players with subtleties to employ.

4) Not one England back would make the All Black starting lineup. They all lack the gifts, daring-do and acceleration of Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, and on and on and on.

5) On goalkicking, Owen Farrell is a matchwinner bar none. Take away the tee though and world player of the year candidate? Back-up kicker George Ford could lose games for England. He's on a par with Barrett who - unfortunately - isn't the All Blacks' back up kicker.

6) Power No. 8s are all the rage. The 125kg Nathan Hughes - deputising for the equally large England ace Billy Vunipola - was prominent in a lumbering way in his first test start. Considering Hughes' unmistakable impact, in just his third test, he was man of the match material but the official award went to halfback Ben Youngs who Jones singled out as having confirmed his Lions prospects.. The 117kg Wallaby Lopeti Timani had an encouraging start to the game but like many team mates he faded. Rookie Timani is a real prospect for Australia though.

7) Is Hughes yet another one who got away from Auckland rugby? The Blues apparently didn't show enough immediate interest in the big man three years ago, so he quit the development path in his early 20s and headed for Wasps. The Fiji-born Hughes has got away from a few teams. His heritage also made him eligible for Samoa. The Kelston Boys High student was a hockey player who took up rugby aged 16.

8) Sky TV parked this big ending to the southern hemisphere season behind its secondary Rugby Channel paywall. In effect, this made it an $8 watch. That's short sighted in terms of rugby promotion, with the All Blacks not playing. But its cheaper than boxing, a lot cheaper.

9) For $8 (the monthly fee) you got an odd deal, in which specialist comments from the likes of Jonny Wilkinson were deleted, leaving empty spaces. Was this something to do with the rights? The English commentary was nicely even handed.

10) Give that man a technical area to gesticulate in. Australian coach Michael Cheika exudes hard done by via the TV cameras. He would be an attraction in his own right if rugby had pitch-side areas for coaches to parade in a-la the round ball code. From what I can gather, Cheika was in a conciliatory mood after the game, highlighted his team's errors, left referee Jaco Peyper alone, and praised Jones. That's a nice way to head into the summer break.

11) Lions coach Warren Gatland - he is on a Welsh sabbatical while preparing for the New Zealand tour next year - was at Twickenham. The game reinforced the likelihood that he will bring a pack of awesome forwards to New Zealand, but the tough 10-game schedule will really stretch the Lions' back resources.

12) Wallaby tighthead prop Sekope Kepu is a magnificent sight in full flight - his rampaging try was the match highlight, as he flew past replacement England frontrower Joe Marler.

13) England finish the calendar year unbeaten - congratulations to them and coach Jones, after the embarrassing World Cup failure under Stuart Lancaster on home turf last year. A 13 out of 13 record is a fine achievement. Ireland are a livelier and more impressive team though, with more attacking options built on tearaway loose forwards. Pitching the All Blacks and England as the north-south game everyone wants to see is disrespectful to Joe Schmidt's Ireland.

14) The so-called Autumn internationals have been a great success and while the All Blacks are still rightly regarded as the world's finest team, there is no longer a sense they are the centre of the rugby universe. There is a fascinating grandeur to test rugby...but TV access for the masses is always a looming issue.

15) Whew. Time for a rest. Test rugby involving a southern hemisphere team in December? Madness.