Your questions answered: Why was 'forward pass' for Scotland's winning try not given?
Scotland handed England defeat in the first match of the Steve Borthwick era with many Telegraph Sport readers arguing that Ben Youngs cost the home side and that Scotland got away with a forward pass before one of their tries - but does our expert agree?
Telegraph Sport's senior rugby writer Charlie Morgan answers your questions after Gregor Townsend's team claimed the Calcutta Cup once more.
Ben Youngs had two awful kicks to turn over possession when he was brought on to control the game. Is it time to move on?
This question has cropped up a great deal over the past few years and Borthwick will have mulled it over. He is renowned for his loyalty to players and Youngs was among his lieutenants at Tigers. But two poor kicks from the veteran scrum-half in the space of a minute, with England leading 23-22, felt particularly damaging. Finn Russell had just skewed a strike out on the full to hand the hosts a lineout. They mauled, and Youngs hoisted skywards.
However, it travelled too far for either chaser, Ben Earl or Anthony Watson, to challenge. Kyle Steyn called for a mark and cleared. Youngs gathered in the back-field, and attempted an up-and-under for Freddie Steward to pursue. Again, the kick sailed too long. Steward was not able to jump. Russell caught and spun away, fizzing a pass to Blair Kinghorn that opened up the pitch and instigated the 80-metre attack finished by Duhan van der Merwe. In an instant, Scotland’s conviction was placed in sharp contrast to how England appeared to tighten up.
Youngs also hooked a couple of fruitless chips from the base of rucks that surrendered good positions. Alex Mitchell would seem to be next in line, if Borthwick feels as though he needs to refresh matters. Raffi Quirke will come into consideration. One concern would be that Jack van Poortvliet, the number one, is just 21. An experienced foil would be handy. The landscape at scrum-half remains curious.
Does Steve Borthwick bring in Henry Arundell or any other players for Italy?
It is very difficult to see Borthwick overreacting to his first game given there were encouraging aspects. Equally, though, whatever happens in their match against France, Italy will arrive at Twickenham intent on imparting width and confident of a first-ever victory over England.
Henry Arundell has only just returned for London Irish following a lay-off of a few months because of his foot injury. If there is a change in the back three, it would be a surprise if he jumped ahead of Anthony Watson or Tommy Freeman. Raffi Quirke and George Ford, who were Sale Sharks’ starting half-backs in the Premiership Rugby Cup last Friday, will probably need more time as well.
England have been hopeful that Courtney Lawes and Henry Slade will be reintegrated soon enough. Remember that a group including Sam Simmonds, David Ribbans, Jack Willis and Manu Tuilagi trained with the squad all week. Willis scored in a close win for Toulouse over Bayonne. He is clearly a very strong back-row option. Others, such as Alex Mitchell and Cadan Murley, were released on Tuesday. Any revamp would begin there.
Can someone explain why the 'forward pass' for Scotland's last try was not spotted by the video ref?
Because of relative velocity. The ball may have appeared to have travelled forwards from Matt Fagerson to Van der Merwe, but it came out of the former’s hands in a backwards direction. This is how a legal pass tends to be defined. The forward direction comes about from Fagerson’s momentum. Lewis Ludlam’s scoring pass to Max Malins in the first half looked similar, albeit over a shorter distance.
🏉 He's at it again!
🏴 @duhanvdmerwe with another HUGE try!#GuinnessSixNations | #ITVRugby pic.twitter.com/gpglsq7lB4
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) February 4, 2023
How long before we see two Chessums in the England pack?
This certainly felt like a significant, statement performance from Ollie Chessum in what was his first Six Nations start. Steve Borthwick is obviously familiar with the 22-year-old from their time together at Leicester Tigers and picking him at lock allowed England to assemble a relatively lightweight and industrious back row that would suit long kicking exchanges. Behind Ellis Genge, Chessum was probably the hosts’ most prominent carrier. Loping yet explosive, he ate up ground constantly – and his set-piece exploits will not have been lost on Borthwick. Chessum, rather than Maro Itoje, scrummaged behind England’s tighthead props – Kyle Sinckler and then Dan Cole – and was a go-to line-out jumper. He is capable of shifting to blindside flanker, too, if Borthwick fancies a heavier pack against opponents like France or South Africa.
Could there be two Chessums in that pack one day? Well, Lewis Chessum is the current England Under-20 captain and skippered his team to a frantic, 41-36 win over Scotland on Friday night at the Twickenham Stoop. Less than 24 hours later, Chessum junior was across the road supporting his older brother. Lewis is taller than his sibling, which is fairly impressive given that Ollie is 6ft 7in, and skilful. Keep an eye on Leicester, Nottingham, where he has been on loan, and the Under-20 Six Nations to monitor his progress.