James Haskell backs Finn Russell's bold half-time chat at Twickenham
From out of sight to out in front and brought back down to earth in the space of a mad-cap hour at Twickenham.
England's Guinness Six Nations finale against Scotland had it all. Eddie Jones' men went into the game knowing Wales were Grand Slam champions but tore into the Scots regardless.
England raced into a 31-0 lead before conceding a 60-metre breakaway try to Scottish hooker Stuart McInally. That made it 31-7 but England could have stretched they lead further with a penalty before half-time. They went for the line and lost possession. Still, the Scots were 24 points adrift at the break.
In the 'Away' changing room, Scotland outhalf Finn Russell claims he had it out with head coach Gregor Townsend about their tactics in a poor first half. He told ITV:
“I think I actually had an argument with Gregor. I said, ‘You’re telling us to kick and when we kick it they’re just running it back and cut us open and when we run it they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’.
"In the first half we got caught off-guard with England - similar to two years ago - and then in the second half we just came out and had nothing to lose. We just played our rugby, we played well, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries... we just played good, Scottish rugby in the second half."
The comeback was well and truly on when Darcy Graham dotted down for the Scots after 46 minutes. Three more tries followed, including one from Russell, before Sam Johnson made it 38-31 to the Scots. They had just three minutes to hang on but conceded a late, late try to George Ford and the game finished 38-38.
Watching that game in Twickenham was Northampton and England back-row James Haskell, who then sent this audio message to the House of Rugby WhatsApp group:
"F***ng hell, what a game! I don't give a s*** about rugby, but that was insane!"
On the latest episode of JOE UK's House of Rugby, host Alex Payne looked back on that game with James Haskell and former England captain Mike Tindall.
"I was really razzed up about the game... and at 31-0 up, I was like, 'Come on! This is going to be unbelievable... this is going to be 60 points. And then I went, 'It'd be so funny if Scotland came out and won, wouldn't it? But it'll never happen'. And then I watched it just descend into utter chaos."
Haskell referred back to that half-time argument between Russell and Townsend. "They were having this sort of row," he said, "and I think they went in at half-time and, from what I've heard, Finn Russell said, 'I'm not f***ing kicking it'.
"Townsend said, 'You need to kick more' and Russell said, 'I'm not f***ing doing it'."
To Tindall's mind, England turning down that kick at goal - when awarded a penalty - was a big error. He commented, "Penalty, 39 minutes, 15 seconds. Scotland have just scored. easy three points. Puts them 27 ahead. Would you not have just taken that? Yes, they've just scored but you've then taken the momentum back."
Little moments with big consequences but, flipping hell, what a game!
Episode 23 sees Alex Payne joined by James Haskell, Mike Tindall and James' father-in-law Richard Madeley to discuss awkward kitchen conversations, lost underwear and the finale of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.