Nick Evans

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England face biggest character test as losses raise eyebrows in New Zealand | Nick Evans

England need to learn how to adapt after two defeats that have raised interest in the Six Nations, and further admiration of Ireland, in All Black countryMaybe the Eddie Jones factor plays a part – the old mate from across the Tasman Sea – but whenever…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/mar/15/england-character-test-six-nations-new-zealand-nick-evans

England’s wet-weather game and power will be too much for France | Nick Evans

Six Nations collision in Paris to be a huge struggle for France but England must not allow them to be in with a sniff late onI know precisely what it’s like to play against a France team in the mood. It may be 11 years ago now but I can still vividly r…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/mar/07/england-power-wet-weather-game-france-six-nations-rugby

England have yet to replace Neil Back at openside and it is a big problem | Nick Evans

Hamish Watson was outstanding in Scotland’s win and the visitors must hope Sam Underhill can be that kind of playerAs a contrast to England’s repeated failure to find a successor at openside flanker to Neil Back one has only to look at how New Zealand…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/feb/27/england-have-yet-to-replace-neil-back-at-openside

Nathan Hughes’s carries will have England’s backs licking their lips | Nick Evans

If Eddie Jones does decide to put Nathan Hughes straight into the starting lineup against Scotland on Saturday, my guess is he will play for 60 minutes before the cavalry come onIt comes as no surprise to hear England’s coaches have been glowing about …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/feb/21/nathan-hughes-england-backs-scotland-rugby-nick-evans

England look unbeatable in the rain but Wales exposed weaknesses | Nick Evans

The visitors’ showing when it dried up at Twickenham will give hope to Scotland when Eddie Jones’s side visit MurrayfieldIf it rains for the next five weeks, England will be crowned Six Nations champions because Eddie Jones’s side have once again demon…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/feb/13/england-best-wet-weather-wales-scotland-six-nations

The beauty of Ford-Farrell is you have another 10 to see the space | Nick Evans

Combination of George Ford and Owen Farrell gives England a lot of options and spares Eddie Jones the need for a backs coachSpeaking from the point of view of a backs coach, I find it no surprise Eddie Jones does not have a permanent one in his England…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/feb/06/england-ford-farrell-another-10-space

My verdict on how the tier one nations came out of the autumn internationals | Nick Evans

With one game to go this autumn, New Zealand and Scotland will be delighted with their showings while Australia’s tour nosedived and South Africa are in a sorry stateThey have definitely got a rock under their towels when it comes to their holidays now…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/26/nick-evans-verdict-autumn-rugby-union-internationals

Warren Gatland is strong enough to keep faith with new Welsh style | Nick Evans

Wales will be put under plenty of pressure but if they can limit New Zealand to one or two tries they have a chance of causing an upsetDespite everything that has been said in the past few weeks, and everything written in Warren Gatland’s book, the Wal…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/24/warren-gatland-strong-enough-wales-new-zealand

Danny Care’s kicking game makes him England’s No1 scrum-half contender | Nick Evans

Skill at ‘seeing space and putting ball over the top’ is Care’s finest attribute and Saturday’s game against Samoa can be excellent chance to press home his case with Eddie JonesDanny Care is one of the best running scrum‑halves in the world but I was …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/19/danny-care-perfect-kicking-game-england-scrum-half-autumn-international-rugby-union

Kurtley Beale as playmaker for Australia spells danger for England | Nick Evans

He may have the No15 jersey on his back but Kurtley Beale will move in tighter because he is an important distributor for Australia, and Eddie Jones will be wary of his influence on Saturday’s game at TwickenhamMichael Cheika put his money on Kurtley B…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/17/kurtley-beale-playmaker-australia-england-danger

England’s new men struggled without Billy Vunipola but Jones will keep faith | Nick Evans

Minus the man who carries the ball so much, Eddie Jones’s midfielders found they couldn’t get into the game against Argentina as much as they’d likeAll the talk in the buildup to the start of England’s autumn internationals was how they would perform w…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/13/england-argentina-billy-vunipola

England and Ireland should fully expect to sail through autumn undefeated

Northern hemisphere holds the early cards but ann almost-full-strength Australia will be confident having recently defeated New ZealandWith an experimental All Blacks side, a Jekyll and Hyde South Africa and a poor Argentina team, it is fair to say Au…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/nov/10/england-ireland-rugby-union-autumn-internationals-new-zealand-australia

Lions did themselves proud against New Zealand – a draw was a fair result | Nick Evans

Honours deserved to be even as tourists weathered the expected All Blacks onslaught with a superior kicking game and superb defence

Like most people I had a sense of anticlimax at the final whistle. It was a strange feeling. I couldn’t help but think: “Even if they flip a coin, surely it can’t end like that?” But thinking about it a bit more, it means that the 2017 series will go down in history. We will look back on it in the future and there will be a bit of mythology to it.

And for all that it was a perplexing end to the tour, I don’t think there should be any changes to the laws. It is so rare that it happens and, as Steve Hansen said, it was probably a fair result for where the two teams were in that point in time. If it comes down to a draw after all the hype, everything that has gone on before, then so be it.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/10/nick-evans-british-lions-new-zealand-third-test

Expect an All Black reaction – because defeat would mean national mourning | Nick Evans

There has been an edge to New Zealand’s training this week, which is good sign that the team are focused on the job in hand against the Lions

All Blacks supporters will not even be contemplating defeat on Saturday. I have been involved in similar circumstances, when we lost to France at the 2007 World Cup when no one saw it coming, and just like back then, there would be a period of national morning and the inquest would start.

But there has been an edge to New Zealand this week. Steve Hansen’s selection is bold and while Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape are making their first international starts, there is a huge amount of experience around them, particularly in the pack. The Lions have a few more caps than the All Blacks but I believe that it is the type of experience that counts. This match feels like a World Cup final and the All Blacks have been in the last two and got the job done. And that gives them the edge.

Related: Lions relishing chance to carve slice of history and leave a large legacy | Robert Kitson

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/07/expect-all-blacks-reaction-lions-tour-nick-evans-column

Lions beat New Zealand on tiniest of margins, and a thrilling finale awaits | Nick Evans

Wafer-thin refereeing decisions and breaks of the ball won Warren Gatland’s men the second Test, and the victory sets up a mouthwatering decider

There is so much to love about the British & Irish Lions, and so much to love about what was a hell of a Test, but there is one thing that has annoyed me about it and left a bit of a bitter taste. The penalty to win the match is really frustrating and it is just a shame that such a good contest was settled that way.

It is not the fault of Jérôme Garcès because, to the letter of the law, it is a penalty. It is the law itself that is the problem. Kyle Sinckler jumps just before he is tackled, so what is Charlie Faumuina supposed to do? He is committed to the tackle – is he supposed to try to pull out and let Sinckler make a line-break? The law says it is a penalty but from a purely rugby point of view, it is frustrating. And that’s the game.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/03/lions-new-zealand-narrow-victory-thrilling-finale

Lions’ pairing of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell is brave not desperate | Nick Evans

Warren Gatland’s selection for the second Test gives the Lions balance, the ability to get the ball wider, quicker – plus it’s another kicking option

Brave? Yes. Desperate? Absolutely not. It has been said Warren Gatland is a man with nothing to lose, that he’s rolling the dice by picking Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell together. Make no mistake, Gatland has heaps to lose. Fail to win and the series is gone, so clearly a lot of thought has gone into this decision.

I think it’s an exciting selection. Before the tour started and as the warmup matches got going, I thought Sexton and Farrell would play together and Gatland has probably looked at the first Test, realised where the Lions were effective and realised they are going to have to score tries because he knows full well the All Blacks are going to score tries.

Related: All Blacks v Lions: tactical pointers and key clashes for second Test | Paul Rees and Gerard Meagher

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/30/lions-pairing-johnny-sexton-owen-farrell-warren-gatland