ENGLAND – TEACHER: EDDIE JONES
We had such a strong start to the term and it looked as though the class had used our break to do some extra study work on their opponents and catch up to the elite level after last year’s debacle.
After the first two games, the team seemed to have overtaken last season’s ‘best in class’ and even beat our exchange student from Paris with the greatest of ease. Things were looking very promising for my men in white but somewhere during half term they lost their way.
A trip over the Severn Bridge created some homesickness and a lacklustre performance ensued. We decided to test them at the highest level under pressure but unfortunately it seemed to scramble to their minds a bit and ultimately, they failed.
I thought the fresh air from having the roof open would help but the sick bags were needed after all.
Permission slips from Maro and Mako were not handed in on time for this trip and the group sorely missed them. Leadership, tackling and an ability to slow ball down at the breakdown was lost and the rest of the group couldn’t pick up the slack. Courtney later in the tournament, was also out and his tackling was missed as well.
Another exchange student from Rome was soundly beaten and then our oldest neighbours from the north waltzed into town.
My Red Rose class had a chance to put some gloss onto their term to actually obtain quite a high grading and it looked as though they were about to do just that. Students Jack, Johnny and Owen were all impressing as they took Scotland to task but then their naughty streak got the better of them.
Owen started playing up and stopped communicating with the rest of his friends and so Jack and Johnny went to the sandpit on their own.
Their Scottish friend but now foe, Finn ended his own indifferent term strongly and cast shadows on his English mates.
Owen was sent to the naughty room to learn how to use his arms more effectively whilst his usually close class mate Fordy, managed to save the day just before the bell went for the end of term.
I tried my best for my class and even bad mouthed all of the other teams to try and put them off but Gats was having none of it.
It felt like 2015 all over again. Lancaster and Andrew…..where are you now?
IRELAND – TEACHER: JOE SCHMIDT
Last year’s top of the class may well have spent the New Year partying in Ibiza after beating the World leaders last year.
We faced a stern first exam of the year but I didn’t expect them to fail that in the way that they did.
Lack of revision was obvious and young Johnny certainly spent his break concentrating on extracurricular activities because his head seemed to be elsewhere.
On our first trip across the Irish Sea we visited Edinburgh but Johnny wasn’t happy again so young Joey had to come on and helped out. He did really well and it was such a shame that Joey got injured later on when we toured Europe.
It was a controlled, if unspectacular performance but some of the brightest pupils of last year started to show their ability to climb up the class again. Conor, Jacob and Keith helped Joey in a victory that filled the class with confidence again.
We visited Italy but the Coliseum didn’t inspire the class as I had thought it may have. Our fighting spirit was not what it had been in the past but eventually we slay the lions.
My worries for Johnny and his mental state were increasing by the minute and I wish that I had dealt with his tantrums better than I did. It effected the group worse than I had first thought. If only Joey hadn’t hurt his leg!
I was pleased to get the group home to Dublin for the arrival of our Gaelic friends as this lot were there for the taking.
We beat them but it wasn’t a clinical performance in the slightest.
I kept telling Rory to stop kicking to the corner as we looked dangerous with ball in hand and I think that grumpy Johnny told him that because he scored not long after with one of his trademark wrap around moves.
The score line was average at best and we lost concentration at the end but a win is a win I suppose.
Our trip to Wales to end the term was nothing short of disastrous.
Johnny was sulking and he was bored of the travelling now. The green shirt was tarnished by his attitude and his kicking out of hand was putting us under pressure. Joey better be fit for the World Cup because if my golden boy is not in the right frame of mind then we have trouble at our doorstep.
Wales dominated us and even though they only scored one try we couldn’t cope with the breakdown pressure like we usually do and gifted them points.
A poor end to a poor term.
ITALY – TEACHER: CONOR O’SHEA
There is so much promise in this group but they just can not fulfil their potential. I can see why so many people want our school kicked out of the wider group.
Our trip to Scotland didn’t start well at all but after we shook the flight out of our legs, we decided to wake up and play some rugby but unfortunately for us, Kinghorn and Hogg had already done the damage for them.
We did really well in Section B of the exam but when Section A was such a failure you can’t expect to pass.
Back in Rome, l thought we showed real fighting spirit when we played Wales. I know it wasn’t their first choice class and their best player of previous year’s, Biggar, didn’t play well but we acquitted ourselves really well and stuck to the task. Braam and Paddy on the wing played really well and Paddy especially has been superb this term.
The Ireland game was sooooooo frustrating because we had them on the rack and even led at half time. They were worried that’s for sure. Paddy scored again and Luca showed why I regard him so highly. Johnny, their so-called superstar, even stormed out of the classroom at one stage. It is a good job it was our ball or I think he may have taken it home with him!
The second half of this test was difficult for us because we were a bit tired. If only Section A from this class test could have been paired with Section B of the Wales test. Damn!
England gave us our usual beating at HQ and I’ll take some blame for this. Me and Catty couldn’t come up with an ingenious idea like we did two year’s ago when we didn’t get anyone in the ruck.
All roads led to Rome though and I knew that we had our best chance of winning. France had been terrible this term and I knew we could win.
Unfortunately for us, white line fever had spread through the class and we couldn’t finish our exams.
We were better than the French and Sergio was like a Gladiator for 80 minutes. To make it worse it looks as though Leonardo Ghiraldini may miss the World Cup and that is heart breaking for us. He is a true legend and Sergio will miss his banter greatly because they are one of only a few players that remember our last victory.
A loss is a loss though but my wife is happy that she doesn’t have to buy another stirring implement this year.
FRANCE – COACH: JACQUES BRUNEL
Quite frankly, I have had enough of this class. I inherited a total mess and I have tried so hard to make them behave but they just won’t listen to me.
I tried so hard over the winter break to make them talk to each other and I even brought back some ex-pupils to play with them again.
It seemed to be working as they stopped squabbling for 40 minutes against Wales. Cami was buzzing at half-time after his Drop Goal put us 16 points up but then Morgan told Yohann his hair was girly and it all kicked off.
They stopped talking to each other and Wales clawed back the biggest half time deficit in Six Nations history. Thanks Morgan.
I knew I shouldn’t have taken Morgan to London with the class as he was quite slow and disruptive. I thought about it too much and didn’t think of the rest of my backline. Gaël on the wing and Yohann at Full Back? What was I thinking? My bad!
I sent Morgan home before the Scotland trip and asked Antoine and Romaine to become really good friends. They did just that and with a proper full-back in Ramos, we were looking good again.
Yohann on the wing, Gaël in the centre and Grégory Aldritt making such an impact off the bench, I was a happy teacher once again.
We looked dangerous in attack, limited them to one try and effectively ended Greig Laidlaw’s career. I know this because he’s even slower than Morgan now!
Off to Ireland with a spring in our step.
Man this class frustrates me. Just as I thought they were all getting along, they decide to stop playing with each other again.
They stopped for 70 minutes of this test and Demba Bamba was given the dunces hat when he got back into the changing room. His performance was embarrassing and I got Louis to tell him that because he’s massive. Penalty after penalty and forgetting how to catch was shocking.
The final result of the exam flattered us to be honest and the class I inherited was back to their worse.
I didn’t even feel like going to see my old mates in Rome but Damian Penaud promised me that he was going to try really hard to cheer me up.
He did just that and single-handedly won us the game with his try saving tackle and score of his own at the end.
Our famous attacking flair has dissipated into the Parisian sunset and my hope for this class is that young Damian, Antoine and Romaine can inspire the older boys to lift their grades.
Mathieu is not listening or speaking to me at the moment and no matter how many times I tell him that the bus leaves later than it actually does, he keeps turning up, stuffing me in a big bag in the hold of the team bus and picking himself. Louis will have to speak to him soon, I think.
SCOTLAND – COACH: GREGOR TOWNSEND
And people ask me why I have no hair?
Let’s start with the first test of the season, shall we?
Italy: Great start, nice tries, foot off the gas, almost concede a bonus point score within 10 minutes of the end. Blair was amazing though and I think he will be near the top of the class for quite some time.
I was fuming after this match because all we had spoken about in front of the black board for months was consistency. Time and time again we are brilliant and dreadful in equal measure.
Ireland bowled into town and I thought we had a real opportunity to make a statement in the tournament. We were sloppy but Hoggy’s, Huw’s and latterly, Finn’s injuries were of huge concern to me. These were our star players and to lose them during and even after this match was a big body blow.
We made too many mistakes. We didn’t read the questions properly and answered rashly. Ireland were not great on the day but their big-name players played better than ours. It’s as simple as that. Apart from wee Johnny, his head’s not right I am telling you.
I’d rather not talk about Paris as we were out paced and out played. I love Greig, I really do but my head needs to rule my heart now and his goal kicking alone is not worthy of a place in the team. He slows us down too much and we played much better when Pricey came on.
The Welsh exam was another that we could have passed had we revised a bit more. Section A is where we failed and we barely scraped a pass in Section B. The questions that Hadleigh Parkes asked us in defence were tougher than we had expected.
Murrayfield had been packed out for every game this season and I feel we may have let our fans down slightly.
The final test was one of those moments when you do absolutely no revision whatsoever but half way through the exam you have an epiphany and remember absolutely everything that you had been taught in the last year.
Section A was abysmal. The test wasn’t even that difficult.
I’m lying, my alarm didn’t go off and we were late to the stadium, we missed kick off and let them score a point a minute.
McInally was, weirdly, the first person to arrive on the pitch and he got us on the score board. I was livid at half-time (with myself and the iPhone) but I knew that we had fresh legs because we hadn’t used them in the first half.
Finally, the Scotland team that I saw last year against the white class re-appeared and decided to play rugby. Owen, their star player, lost his head like wee Johnny had a few weeks beforehand and we steam rolled them. Wave after wave, nailing every multiple-choice question like we had the answers written in Sharpie on our forearms.
One question left to answer and all of the class mates were getting really good grades but that pesky ‘Fordy’ lad ruined it for everyone.
Less hair and lower grades. Thanks Lads.
WALES – COACH: WARREN GATLAND
Our term ended in unbridled success and me being lauded all around Cardiff but these cheeky scamps can be a little bit naughty from time to time.
It was great that everyone was talking about the Green and the White class before the tournament as it took the focus off us but we certainly lost all focus in Paris.
16-0 down to a Jacques Brunel team was hard to take but big George never lets me down and inspired us to victory. Yet again though, it showed how our strength in depth can really get us out of a whole. Gareth A didn’t play well but Dan did. Everyone wanted Gareth A dropped but who’s laughing now?
I was really proud of the class after that opening night but I certainly let them know that a first half performance like that won’t go unpunished against better teams.
The depth is so good in my class that I made a lot of changes for the next test in Rome. We struggled but our quality shone through. This time Dan wasn’t so good and Gareth A came on to steady the ship. I am pleased that we had this battle because it gave game time to the fringe players and kept others fresh for when the Chariots rolled into town.
I wish that they hadn’t put a roof on the Principality Stadium now as it causes so much uproar but it is a nice luxury so I think we should use it. Just saying…….
We weren’t great for 40 minutes yet again but I always felt that England were there for the taking. Their young upstart Kyle Sinckler looked like he could be wound up so I told Alun-Wyn to do just that.
He took the bait and the rest of the England Class followed suit. We had them in our pockets and it showed me that my own students had a nasty side, just like me.
Josh was superb and so was Cory. I was sad when Cory got injured during the tournament as he proved a lot of people wrong. He could have been a Lion you know……..
The fans were happy, I was happy, we had beaten our fiercest rivals but we still had work to do.
Scotland were tougher than I thought they were going to be in all honesty. We weren’t at our best in the second half but I finally got the first 40 performance that I wanted. Foxy and Josh were dangerous but the game belonged to Hadleigh Parkes. His defence was outstanding as our backs hit the wall but not only that, he also made solid ground with the ball in hand to get us out of trouble when it was needed.
Him and Shaun had a big cuddle and discussion after the game. It was a bit awkward at times but nonetheless, Had’s was brilliant.
On to the final exam of the term and the second best team in World Rugby. The roof was open even though it was pouring down and despite me being overly annoyed by this, I thought it was a mistake from the Irish Class.
Gareth A and Hadleigh were now gelling beautifully. Growing up in the Valley’s together was paying dividends. 😉
I finally had my 80 minute performance from my class. A try from Had’s on 2 minutes and a suffocation of the Irish pack in testing conditions was first rate.
Gareth A has silenced all critics and Alun-Wyn is right up there with Warb’s now as one of the great captains.
The back row balance of Josh, Tip’s and Mozza is up there with the best and the thought of Taulupe coming back before the World Cup has me salivating.
A Grand Slam for my boys and it was fully deserved.
As I am a bit of a task master, I am going to penalise their grade slightly for some of the poor first half performances. I can’t have them thinking that me and Shaun have gone soft.