Analysis: Eddie Jones’ two-prong England attack

Conor Wilson Roar Rookie

By Conor Wilson, Conor Wilson is a Roar Rookie

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    As of October 2017, nearly two years into Eddie Jones’ reign at Twickenham, England don’t have an attack coach.

    England have a dedicated defence coach Paul Gustard, forwards coach Steve Borthwick, scrum coach Neal Hatley, a key man Dean Benton as strength and conditioning coach and consultants such as Jonny Wilkinson and the sensational Will Greenwood.

    Jason Ryles of the Melbourne Storm has come in as a guest defence coach, and we even have an eye-training specialist in Sherylle Calder, who was part of both the 2003 and 2007 WC wins. Yet for all the people brought in, one role remains glaringly vacant: that of attack coach.

    Glen Ella has been brought into the England set-up on more than one occasion to assist Jones, but the RFU don’t want an Australian attack coach, they want an Englishman. Ali Hepher of the Exeter Chiefs is being considered by them, but not by Jones.

    Ella loves coaching England. We saw his reactions to England’s victories in 2016 against Australia and Argentina in 2017. His enthusiasm at England snatching games from the fire was as passionate and excited as any Englishman I know, and he wants to take the role. He’s hugely experienced and knows exactly what skill-sets Jones values.

    Glenn Ella with Eddie Jones

    (Photo by Tim Anger)

    He’s the closest we could get to a Wayne Smith – a Professor of our own who would be invaluable in England’s think tank. Yet we don’t have him. So, Jones coaches the attack himself, not trusting anyone else bar his childhood friend to take the reins.

    Attack

    The England attack is unique. It doesn’t follow any standard system of attack used by other international teams. It doesn’t follow a 1-3-3-1 or a 2-4-2. It’s largely derived from the Japanese game plan, with many similar patterns of play to Japan under Jones.

    However, a key is greater emphasis being placed on power and physicality due to the player size we’re able to select.

    This game is geared towards utilising the distribution skills of both George Ford and Owen Farrell, with particular emphasis on the backline’s alignment off Ford and flat passes on the gain line to the forwards.

    This deception is paired with extreme physicality from the England pack, and the fitness of England’s forwards. Philosophically, I believe Jones is bringing the Rod MacQueen Brumbies pattern that worked so well in the 90s.

    Back to the future. He’s modernised it, that’s for sure. But England’s hit-and-run rugby, plus Jones’ exclusive use of Ella, leads me to believe he doesn’t want anyone else coaching it, as no one else understands it in detail.

    Let’s get into it.

    Derivations and objectives

    England don’t try to go around teams. They have the players to do it, but English Rugby is and always was meant to be physical, uncompromising and hard-hitting. We have fast wingers who can utilise space, and we have the patterns to do so. However, we also have the forwards to go through teams.

    The likes of Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Jamie George, Tommy Taylor, Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge are key to this. Not only are all of these players extremely powerful, they’re also very fast.

    Half of those mentioned are arguably players that are on the bench and can be brought on against tiring legs. Hence, we want to use them in a specific type of way. It’s a point of difference and one advantage we have against many other teams in international rugby.

    However, Jones has also picked very mobile forwards. This is highlighted in the locks, with Itoje, George Kruis and Courtney Lawes being some of the most physical, yet mobile forwards in the northern hemisphere. This is key. While England have their patterns, it demands a high level of fitness from the forwards to switch between them.

    England's Maro Itoje mulling over thier series win

    (Photo by Tim Anger)

    The two-prong pattern

    England alternate their patterns. Most of the time, there’s a forward out on either wing like in a 1-3-3-1 but England performs it more along the lines of a 1-2-2-1, which I have christened the ‘two-prong’ pattern.

    Usually, it’ll be Itoje and Jamie George due to their speed. There are also two two-man pods (or prongs) split near the 20-metre lines or, on one side of the field, depending on how the backline is aligned.

    As for the last two forwards, they’re nomadic. Not only do they provide extra support for the ruck if needed, they can operate in support of the 9 or 10. You often see them coming in as inside runners off the fly-half. This is a structural pattern – it happens too often not to be. Alternatively, they move around from the blind to open, offering themselves as hard runners on the fringe of the ruck.

    This 1-2-2-1 pattern, however, whilst the default, is not always used. Sometimes, all forwards move to one side of the pitch to secure the ball and play tight. This leaves only backline players on three-quarters of the pitch. Other times, there have been instances of 2-2-2-2, which could be Eddie Jones adapting to the new ruck laws, which allow far more leniency to the attacking side. That’s why this pattern is currently so unique.

    England forwards, aside from the two prongs, seem to have great autonomy in their phase play. As such, they have to be fit.

    England and Australia contest the scrum

    (David Davies/PA Wire)

    First prong:

    In the example below, we can see Ben Youngs passing to the first prong.

    England rugby attack pattern

    The first prong’s job is to hold the line-speed out wide, prior to the next phase. Launchbury and Itoje are running hard onto the ball, working as a unit to drive over the gain line. George Ford is running behind them as a decoy receiver, which keeps the defence on the outside wary.

    Even more so, though you can’t see it, Haskell and Lawes are moving forward into a flatter position as well, keeping the defence interested. This is important, as they’re trying to present multiple options.

    Second prong

    This is the second prong at work. The first has taken the ball into contact, the ruck cleared out by the nomads, and Ford has jumped in as first receiver. His sole job is to pass to Lawes, a powerful runner in his own right.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Ford stepping in as first receiver is important. This allows the second prong to stand a greater distance away than it would do if it was run off the 9.

    The second prong follows the first in terms of their attack, running onto the ball, working as a unit to get over the advantage line, ruck and retain the ball. However, the objective is different.

    The second prong generally cuts an inside line. This is because they hit the line wider. Therefore, it’s able to fulfill its main target point at the edge of the defensive line, as seen below.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Ford as first receiver

    Ford allows the ball to be stretched out quicker. It also stops the defensive fulcrum rushing up on them. With Ford, we’re working towards the blindside with quick ball and therefore cutting out defenders with long passes. This allows England to spread across the field faster than defenders can number up.

    Analysis of what’s been created

    What we see here is the result of the prior phases. The ball has moved across the field quickly and the forwards have been able to provide quick ball. Youngs has fired a long, flat pass to Ford. The men outside him keep their width and flatness off the 10 and Ford himself is stood flat at the line.

    Look closely, this allows him to hold the inside shoulder of Cuthbert.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Brown runs a hard inside line off Ford, which holds part of the inside defence, not allowing them to drift across. Again, this is the effect of multiple options. Ford takes the ball flat to the line, giving the pass to Jamie George, the 1 in the 1-2-2-1 system.

    With the space created on the inside by the two-prong combo, quick ball and flat alignment, George makes inroads halfway into the 22.

    This wasn’t done with any fancy decoy moves or offloading in the tackle to generate space. This was done with three phases across the pitch, accurate distribution, quick ball and good lines by multiple players offering themselves as an option.

    Again, this attests to the fitness of England’s forwards and the effect of good basics – something all coaches can learn from.

    Mike Brown launches the ball skyward

    (Photo by Tim Anger)

    Purpose of this movement

    The objective of the shape is to constrict the defence between the two 20-metre channels. It also cuts down line-speed of the defence, allowing England space and time to use their wide men.

    This isn’t simply a one-way pattern. If the ball is taken into contact by the second prong and there’s no space out wide, Ford can reverse the direction of play, targeting the first prong of Launchbury and Itoje from the prior phase.

    However, as shown below, it’s not always designed to constrict the opposition in the middle of the field but on one side as well.

    Back the other way

    England rugby attack pattern

    This ruck is the result of the Jamie George inroad. One prong is already running hard approximately five metres from the ruck. Out wide you can see Owen Farrell, in the absence of Ford, organising the next prong.

    They have stressed the defence so much that they haven’t contested their ruck ball, even with only England backs in the ruck. As such, the defence is still realigning as the prong charges in.

    One phase later, Haskell and Marler are the second prong and Owen Farrell is preparing a wide play. In this case, the wide play is on as there are players out on the wing (out of shot).

    England rugby attack pattern

    However, better decisions could be made.

    Better decision making needed

    England have slipped into a 2-2-2-1. The first prong has just hit in the prior phase and there are two other prongs set up. Haskell and Marler form one, Cole and Launchbury the other.

    Youngs has passed directly to Haskell when he shouldn’t have. The first receiver on this phase should’ve been Owen Farrell using Haskell or Marler as decoy runners.

    He could, with his distribution, take the ball to the line, allowing time for Launchbury and Cole, as the second prong, to take the ball flat. This is because Launchbury and Coles are far closer to the edge of the defensive line and therefore hold the drift.

    If this prong finds contact and England generate quick ball, the defence hasn’t had time to number up out wide. It’s a standard pass to the blind and they’re already past the umbrella defensive fulcrum on the flank. Out of shot, there are also three rapid players in Joseph, Nowell and Itoje.

    These three are looking at an empty wing and could create a three-on-one situation.

    Owen Farrell celebrating England's win

    (Photo by Tim Anger)

    Instead, Haskell takes the ball into contact and they attempt to go wide. Due to the contact being far from the edge of the defensive line and the second prong of Marler and Haskell not getting much gain line advantage, the Welsh have more time to rush up and cut off the wing.

    This is an example of trying to constrict the defence on one side but it wasn’t as effective as other occasions. The designed targeting of the edge of the line is better shown in the following example.

    Variation one

    Here, we have a similar situation. Brown is on the inside of the first prong, running hard straight lines to hold the line speed.

    England rugby attack pattern

    The prong goes into contact, Youngs manages to get quick ball and fires a pass off to George Ford (red), who’s standing very flat. This occupies the defence and stops them from drifting. As another option, you see Brown on his inside shoulder.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Ford fires his miss-pass very late and hits Clifford in the second prong (yellow). Clifford, with Lawes, is running hard, targeting the edge of the defensive line and preventing the line rushing up. You can see Farrell (red) behind Clifford – outside him are two of England’s fast men in Joseph and Daly.

    The pass finding Clifford here is essential and a testament to the passing skills needed for this to work. Clifford can offer up Lawes as an inside option and the one thing that checks a defence drift better than a screen pass is an inside ball.

    England rugby attack pattern

    He shapes to make an inside pass to hold the defence, instead looping a pass to Farrell. With the pass made so late, Clifford and Lawes can subtly act as blockers for the drift defence. This leaves Farrell, who then has two fast men on his outside and one man to draw.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Unfortunately, his pass is not a good one and stymies the momentum. If it goes to hand cleanly, Joseph/Farrell can draw Cuthbert, leaving Daly on his wing. It’s a run-in try as the second prong usually commits the sweeper behind due to the hard running nature of it.

    Variation two

    As can be seen here, we have the same basic pattern.

    England rugby attack pattern

    The ball goes to the first prong who go into contact. See the nomads on the inside who are running to try and form the ruck. Quick ball is generated and Youngs fires the ball out to Ford.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Ford steps in as the first receiver, whilst the second prong, again, targets the edge of the defensive line. You can see Cuthbert charging up in anticipation.

    England rugby attack pattern

    Ford fires the pass to Farrell who then finds Jamie George, again the one-pod in the system. George takes the ball from the 22 to the five-metre line. This is all created by the work of the inside men. This includes Launchbury who’s making an obstacle of himself for the drift.

    Simple rugby, performed to a high level.

    This pattern isn’t always performed this way. Either prong can act as a screen or one can run a loop play to go wide-wide. Sometimes the forwards within a prong will do an interplay and act as first receiver.

    There are many variations but this structure is one that England use often and is quite prevalent in their multiple phase play.

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    The Crowd Says (62)

    • February 10th 2018 @ 3:41am
      lexhamfox said | February 10th 2018 @ 3:41am | ! Report

      Excellent write up. Thanks.

      I would think England would want to retain Ella in some capacity. My hope is that Jones can tap a number of resources and keep England evolving and I think he has.

    • February 10th 2018 @ 4:40am
      MH01 said | February 10th 2018 @ 4:40am | ! Report

      Great analysis – reading this , you can see England are evolving and are going to be a huge threat in the RWC 2019 . Its depressing that no one can put analysis of the wallabies together as it’s constant musical chairs ….. poor selections and who knows what the master plan is.

      My only question , has Eddie learnt enough from past experience to have a plan B .

      • February 10th 2018 @ 1:36pm
        Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        Part of the reason for the musical chairs is circumstance (injury and players leaving/returning from NH), part of it is blooding new players (Coleman, Arnold, Hannigan, Kerevi, Powell, Nabuli Koroibete, Naivalu etc) and part of it is preparation for injury.
        It isn’t poor selections although I think he does change too much but his selections are not poor imo (please don’t say Phipps and Mumm, just don’t).
        I think Aus are struggling to put a top side on the pitch and have for the last 15 years if you compare them to NZ or the great Wallaby sides.
        This is NOT the coaches fault.
        How many Aus players would make the NZ side?
        I will give you 3-4 of the 23 at most. Imo most likely would be Pocock, Folau, Hooper, Kepu, Kuridrani, Coleman and Sio. I think only 2 would be likely starters (Folau and either Hooper or Pocock).

        If you look at the quality of England, Scotland and Ireland vs Aus, purely on a player vs player basis, Aus does not stack up that well.
        Sure they should not have been thrashed by Scotland on that basis but being beaten by Scotland in Scotland is likely if you compare the players.

        I also think Cheika is not only playing against the opposition but the Aus public.
        It is sad but I do feel that Cheika is being forced to play in a way that may not produce the best results in the win/loss stats but will be the most attractive to the public. The Aus team is trying to win new fans and keep the fans it’s got by playing riskier rugby than required.

        I feel that Deans played for wins first and did very well in 2011 and 2012 especially. However when he lost or things went wrong it was always going to be difficult for a conservative game plan to be justified to the Aus public when you lost to teams the public (wrongly imo) felt entitled to win against.

        Now Aus rugby is fighting an Aus public that wants exciting victories over better/quality teams or they’re tuning out or crying for somebodies head to be chopped.

        I don’t envy Cheika at all.
        I don’t like him either.

        • February 10th 2018 @ 4:02pm
          Fionn said | February 10th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

          You can’t constantly defend Cheika’s actions and then end by saying you don’t like him. Clearly you do like him, which is fine.

          But I do not see how you can defend some of his indefensible decisions, like giving Hanignan so many tests. I already pointed out Higgers, Fardy, Haylett-Petty, Timani, Tui, Hardwick, Dempsey, etc were all better options.

          Nabuli is not “depth”. He is unlikely to ever play for the Wallabies again in my opinion.

          Aus has far more players than Scotland on a player to player basis, and I think would actually be about even with Ireland.

          Polota-Nau, Coleman, Pocock, Genia, Koroibete, Kuridrani, Folau and even Kepu and Hooper would be in with a good shot. All of those could/would make a combined 15 depending on the individual coach.

          The difference is that Ireland is coached far better.

          • February 10th 2018 @ 6:17pm
            Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

            Excuse me?
            I can defend his selections but say I don’t like him because that’s the truth.
            So thanks for telling me what I think but it isn’t true.
            This “constant defence” of Cheika is nothing more than me saying that his selections have been fine and Aus simply doesn’t have the quality and depth to do better and the “grass is greener” selectors are doing nothing more than finding something to blame for what they think should be happening.

            Who said Nabuli is depth?

            And I’m sorry, Genia over Murray? Ahh, no, I don’t think any coach would pick Genia over a player many argue is the best 9 in the world. I also bet 99% of top coaches would select Furlong ahead of Kepu to start.
            TPN on the bench, maybe. I doubt he’d start.
            If a team was selected between the 2 it would be interesting who would get the nod.
            Would the coach pick Aki and Henshaw or would he consider Kuridrani or Kerevi etc.

            Myself: McGrath, Best, Furlong, Henderson, Coleman, O’Mahonny, Hooper, Stander, Murray, Sexton, Stockdale, Aki, Kuridrani, Folau, Kearney.
            TPN, Healy, Kepu, Toner, O’Brien, Genia, Foley, Kerevi.

            Aus may have greater player numbers than Scotland but Scotland has a team that compares well to Aus. A loss in Scotland is likely. That’s what I said.

            And your idea of indefensible is different to mine.
            I know you’ve “pointed out” YOUR opinion. However Higgers was not a great option because of the way he plays along side Hooper.
            Fardy had signed to go overseas and he was clearly planning for the future.
            L.Tui was selected and has 4 caps. Hardwick has also now been selected and all the players you’ve named are in the mix with Hannigan, who has represented Aus since he was a school kid and is 4 inches taller than Hardwick at lineout time.
            Hannigan has not excelled, I know.

            Stop telling me what I think and don’t put words in my mouth.

            • February 10th 2018 @ 11:24pm
              Taylormam said | February 10th 2018 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

              You mean like telling me not to say there’s a north and south? Perhaps take some of your own advice.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 5:27pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

                No, I’m not telling you what you think.
                So, no, not like that at all.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 6:18pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

                TM, you keep claiming all of the SH as ours as if Fijians playing in and for NZ is somehow not as bad as a SA player playing in and for Ireland.

                It makes no sense.

                It’s still a player playing in and for another country and the equator is utterly meaningless in this. It makes no difference.

                NZ play to beat Aus, NZ play to beat Eng. There is no difference.
                There is no NH team, there is no SH team.
                Eng and France are huge rivals. They are not working together to beat Arg or SA.
                Arg is not ours and Georgia is not theirs.
                The eastern and western hemispheres are meaningless.
                We did not steal Japan from the NH for Super Rugby and the Pacific nations cup.
                They did not steal Aki to play for Ireland.

                There is no conspiracy.
                Players from Tonga may play in NZ or they may play in Wales but one is not good and the other bad.

                Yet you persist in talking in terms of hemispheres.

                Players go where the money and opportunities are and as you can see, hemispheres don’t change anything.

                England played 1 player on Sat from NZ via Aus on Saturday. He qualified because of his parents.
                Fafita, Naholo, Fekitoa and Laulala have probably all played in the same test match yet you will talk about the “southern” influence in England.

                All that you do, imo, is use the equator to avoid realising that to point the finger is being hypocritical. All countries use players and coaches (M.Byrne) from other countries.

            • February 11th 2018 @ 8:47am
              Fionn said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

              His selections aren’t fine though. Hanigan’s performances were basically universally condemned as being awful, and the back row vastly improved as soon as he lost his spot and Dempsey was promoted. He didn’t stand out in SR either.

              Don’t have the depth over Hanigan…? Fardy, Haylett-Petty, Timani, Dempsey, Higginbotham, Korczyk…. Even Simmons or Tui or Philip as locks would be better.

              Doesn’t have depth over Phipps…? Powell, Tuttle, Louwrens, Ruru even Gordon (the guy who often made Phipps sit on the bench in 2017 for his SR team).

              I don’t think so, Murray’s passing is often laborious while he is a great kicker. Many coaches would have Genia over Murray (many wouldn’t also) and many coaches would have Kepu over Furlong (many wouldn’t also). You can easily argue the point both ways.

              I’m sorry, but if you’d say you pick Best over Polota-Nau given Best’s last year you probably don’t watch much Australia or European rugby. And even if you do

              Fardy signed to go overseas AFTER he was told he was not wanted, and could have stuck around for the season like Mowen did in 2013. And Higgers may not be great with Hooper, but all Hanigan contributed was that he was good in the line out and made most of his tackles. Higgers might play loose but he is better in the line out than Hanigan and makes his tackles and contributes around the park in some way.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 1:17am
                HenryHoneyBalls said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:17am | ! Report

                I cant imagine many coaches selecting Genia over Murray nor Kepu over Furlong. Furlong in particular has been one of the stand out players of the last 12 months.

          • February 10th 2018 @ 6:36pm
            Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

            And to imply that unless I agree with everything negative said about somebody I must like them?

            How about the truth?

            Just because I don’t like Cheika as a coach does not mean I should agree with every negative thing you say even if I don’t see any evidence of it.

            I agree with things I see as being true, not things that suit my agenda even if they’re untrue.

            • February 11th 2018 @ 9:00am
              Fionn said | February 11th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

              ‘Don’t see any evidence of it’.

              Yeah, his selections that are criticised proved wonderful. No evidece that Phipps was a poor selection (http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/11/22/wallabies-busted-benches-not-refs-twickenham/) and the fact that the Wallabies’ back row massively improved when Dempsey took over from Hanignan is probably just by chance (correlation does not equal causation, right?) and Nabuli was great.

              I do like Cheika. He was a nice bloke when I met him, and polite, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to defend clearly wrong selections or his inability to recognise and unwillingness to implement the ability for the Wallabies to kick for territory, kick to attack and exit effectively.

              Why do you feel the need to add a caveat every comment saying you don’t like Cheika?

              • February 11th 2018 @ 5:32pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Fionn.

                Does any coach select players that excellent everytime in your opinion?

                Coaches often select players based on a need.

                Clearly Cheikas feels a need for a lineout jumper who is in in the tight stuff whilst Hoops is free to do his thing.

                Fardy worked well in that respect but has signed for overseas so he picked the in form Hannigan from Super Rugby.
                He hasn’t excelled yet.

                So in conclusion, all Cheikas selections are bad all the time.

                There you go.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 5:41pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                And you can’t like Cheika, you disagree with his selections.
                Isn’t that how it works Fionn or is it possible to like him but not agree with something he did?

                Anyway, no coach ever had picked players that excellent from game 1 and many coaches persist with players they see as project players because they have the attributes and potential.

                See G.Henry and I.Toeava.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 6:15pm
                Fionn said | February 11th 2018 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                ‘Does any coach select players that excellent everytime in your opinion?’

                No. No one, not even McCaw, Carter or George Smith were excellent every time. There’s nothing wrong with a bad match here or there.

                The issue is, have Phipps or Hanigan ever had an excellent match for the Wallabies? Do they even have excellent matches at SR level? Are they ever even decent for the Wallabies?

                Word on the street is that Fardy signed overseas because he wasn’t needed. He could still have been picked in 2017.

                Even if you don’t go for Fardy, just pick a lock then, or RHP.

                Hanigan did little in tight. Did you see his attempted cleanout on Brodie Retallick in Bled 1? He had zero impact in tight, and guys like Simmons are much better line out targets also.

                I don’t feel the need to preface every comment with ‘I like Cheika’. It’s irrelevant that I like him as a bloke.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 6:34pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

                Has Hannigan played very well before.
                Yes in Super Rugby, he stood out for selection.
                He also gained selection for Aus as a school kid and at age group levels.
                Maybe Cheika told the Aus U20 coach to make a bad selection and pick Hannigan?

                And seriously, Phipps has played well at all levels. However he’s now being pushed for selection by Powell and a couple of othes who had breakthrough years in 2017. His form wasn’t great in 2016-17 but Frisby flopped (see what I did there?) and White left so there was a void of serious comp until it emerged in 2017 again.

                Yes Fardy could have been selected in 2017 but he had signed to go overseas and Hannigan was a player who had played well at Super level, played well for Aus at School and age group level.

                Dempsey has been capped 6 times. Cheika selected him.
                But I hear Cheikas selections have been poor so maybe he shouldn’t have.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 8:49pm
                Fionn said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

                ‘Has Hannigan played very well before.
                Yes in Super Rugby, he stood out for selection.’

                Well we can totally agree to disagree there, my friend. You’re entitled to your opinions on Hanigan and Phipps but I personally feel they’re devoid from reality. But each to their own, maybe you’re right and I’m wrong.

                P.S. I don’t think the fact that Hanigan was successful at a lower level than SR is indicative whatsoever of his abilities at SR. Luke Saville stood out in the juniors and was even world number 1. He’s still not done well at all in the seniors.

          • February 10th 2018 @ 7:04pm
            FunBus said | February 10th 2018 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

            I can understand WB fans being pessimistic given a few of the recent results, but I’ve got a feeling they’ll arrive in Japan in good shape.

            • February 10th 2018 @ 10:40pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

              Yes, they’ll be in with a shot.
              I think the favs are England and NZ. I can’t split them, both are equal favs for mine. I think NZ has by far the most creative and talented backline but England has a very good forward pack and a good backline for WC rugby.
              The next tier is Aus, Ire and SA.
              Then there is Wales and Scotland as dark horses.
              Then there is Arg and France as very, very dark horses.
              Nobody else can win imo.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 10:06am
                Taylormam said | February 11th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                Nostradamus has nothing on you!

              • February 11th 2018 @ 5:37pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

                Nostradamus was from the NH TM.
                I’m not sure what country but that doesn’t matter now does it?

                I wonder if we (the SH) had a Nostradamus of our own. I come from NZ but even if he was from Namibia, he be part of my hemisphere so he would be from where I’m from.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 8:34pm
                FunBus said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

                😂😂😂😂

    • February 10th 2018 @ 4:56am
      Chaz said | February 10th 2018 @ 4:56am | ! Report

      really good article, so thanks Conor- looks like Nick Bishop might have some competition!
      I can’t wait for the game- think England will win comfortably, but then I thought that at the last three Twickenham clashes, two of which saw Wales do something really special in the last quarter.

      • February 10th 2018 @ 1:50pm
        Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        That was a different England side.

        England by 12.

        I’m really impressed by their pack.
        I love the sound of Launchbury, Simmonds (openside), Lawes, M.Vunipola, B.Vunipola, Hartley, Cole and Itoje.
        That’s a quality, mobile pack. I would argue that it’s pretty close to the best pack in the world.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 11th 2018 @ 6:14am
        Conor Wilson said | February 11th 2018 @ 6:14am | ! Report

        Haha, Thanks Chaz. I won’t say i’m near Nicks level at all! But glad you enjoyed it. My god it was nail-biting!

    • Roar Guru

      February 10th 2018 @ 6:03am
      biltongbek said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:03am | ! Report

      Very detailed and well writte Conor.

      Reminds me of Heineke Meyer in his first two seasons.

      Fixed gameplan that was all about intensity, physicality and execution.

      And then it all came apart. I would think Jones is smarter than that

      • Roar Guru

        February 10th 2018 @ 6:23am
        Harry Jones said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:23am | ! Report

        BB

        Prediction for England’s 3 match series in SA?

        • February 10th 2018 @ 6:42am
          John said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          E-P-I-C

        • Roar Guru

          February 10th 2018 @ 6:54am
          biltongbek said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:54am | ! Report

          Hi Harry, to be honest I don’t expect much, our back line is the poorest I have ever seen, the English are going to punch holes at will.

          I respect Rassie, but unless he picks an entire new baxkline I see a 0-3 drubbing for us

          • February 10th 2018 @ 7:02am
            Fionn said | February 10th 2018 @ 7:02am | ! Report

            10. Pollard, 11. Mapimpi, 12. Serfontein, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 14. R. Combrinck, 15. Gelant

            That’s a good backline.

            Frans Steyn can slot into 12 if he finds some form.

            • Roar Guru

              February 10th 2018 @ 8:17am
              Harry Jones said | February 10th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

              Are we allowed to have a scrumhalf? hahaha

              I like your backline, sir.

              And I agree that Frans off the bench is never a bad idea in test rugby.

              When did he ever fail to bring a punch?

              Hoping Nkosi can bring something on the wing; seems to actually like to hit people.

              • February 10th 2018 @ 3:57pm
                Fionn said | February 10th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                Not even sure who would play scrumhalf at this point.

                Waiting to see who does well in SR.

            • February 10th 2018 @ 3:55pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

              That’s a good backline compared to who, Tonga?

              The point is that other top nations have better backlines.

              How many of those players would make NZs, Australias, England’s, Ireland’s or even Scotland’s backline?
              Not many imo.
              Even Wales has a better backline than that.

              • February 10th 2018 @ 4:56pm
                Fionn said | February 10th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                Pollard, Mapimpi, Serfontein and Combrinck would all be in with a decent to very good chance to make a combined 15.

                The Boks don’t need the best backline in the world because they have possibly the best forward pack in the world, or one of the best forward packs in the world.

                Their forwards will create far more opportunities than, for example, the Wallabies’ forwards. Therefore, the Boks’ backline doesn’t need as good of a points conversation rate as we will. They drew with us twice this year despite a backline that was far, far inferior to the the one I proposed.

              • February 10th 2018 @ 6:22pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                A combined 15 with Tonga?

                The players you’ve named struggle to make the SA team.

                Pollard over who, Sexton, Biggar, Barrett, Ford, Farrell?
                I don’t think so.

                Pollard over Jantjes is difficult enough.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 8:41am
                Fionn said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

                Combined 15 with Australia. Ireland’s back 3 aren’t great and I would expect Mapimpi, Combrinck and Gelant to be in with a decent shot at making the Irish team. Serfontein probably would also.

                Meanwhile, Kitshoff, Marx, Etzebeth, du Toit, Mostert, du Preez and Vermuelen would all be in with a good shot at making a combined 15 with Ireland. Kitshoff, Marx, Etzebeth and Vermuelen would almost be certainties.

                Dempsey struggled to make the Wallabies, while Hanigan did so with ease. Just like Cheika Coetzee’s selections were often awful.

                Pollard over Jantjies is clear as day.

            • February 11th 2018 @ 3:41pm
              cuw said | February 11th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

              DUDE there is a guy called SENATLA – who is tearing it up in the 7S circuit. Noone except Perry baker catches him | 😀

        • February 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm
          Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

          England 3
          SA 0

          • February 10th 2018 @ 7:08pm
            FunBus said | February 10th 2018 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

            I’d be surprised by that. I presume at least one match will be at altitude and the Boks will be really up for this series given the new coach. It would be a major historical anomaly for ANY side to whitewash a series in SA, let alone England.

            • February 10th 2018 @ 10:54pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 10th 2018 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

              Funbus, I heard similar claims before the Lions played Aus in 2013, before the English played Aus in Aus in 2016 and how the Lions had no chance in 2017.
              They all claimed history would somehow influence the now.
              Why they thought that, I do not know.
              History does not influence today.

              • February 10th 2018 @ 11:29pm
                Taylormam said | February 10th 2018 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

                Yes actually, a great deal of it does.

              • February 11th 2018 @ 5:45pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

                Yeah, if I throw heads 3 times it will always be heads TM.
                History makes it so…in both hemispheres.
                But if they threw heads again in the NH it would be because “our” Fijian players from us helped and it’s all because of us and ours, not them but us.

          • February 10th 2018 @ 7:19pm
            Taylormam said | February 10th 2018 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

            I’ll go 2-1 to England…the first time I have said that, ever. Shows how bad it’s got.

            • February 11th 2018 @ 3:45pm
              cuw said | February 11th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

              if u saw England last night – they are not as fit as they claim to be.

              perhaps having lost some frontliners to injuries maybe an explanation – but Wales were fitter in the last 30 minutes.

              something saffas prided in was their fitness and physicality – it has to be the prime focus for them in the immediate.

              they have players with skill – they need to get their main usp right , and fast.

            • February 11th 2018 @ 5:52pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 11th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

              How bad it’s got?

              How bad what’s got?

              Oh, England can’t be good. SA has to be bad.

              Hemispheres again?

              • Roar Guru

                February 12th 2018 @ 3:02am
                biltongbek said | February 12th 2018 @ 3:02am | ! Report

                South africa is currently very bad, you only need to follow rugby casually to know that.

                When someone says South Africa is bad, doesn’t mean to take anything away from England.

    • February 10th 2018 @ 6:42am
      John said | February 10th 2018 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      I enjoyed reading this – thank you. So many follow-up questions;

      – is it really as simply as the Japan game=plan under Jones with the power element added?

      – any other country adopting a similar game-plan?

      – seems they need fit backs as well as forwards; Brown is doing a lot of running isn’t he?

      – can Jones get them fit in the English camp or must they arrive fit? Makes me wonder how Jones and the RFU can co-ordinate with the clubs who are so independent when ARU / RA can’t do jack shit even with their centralized contracting (oops – sorry about that; actually, not really)

      – I know this sounds very silly; has Jones become that good a coach?

      Thanks again

      • February 10th 2018 @ 3:27pm
        English twizz said | February 10th 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        The players are full time rugby from the time they leave school so fully fit with sports science from a Young age look at the England U20 team to see what I mean there all fit

      • February 11th 2018 @ 3:52pm
        cuw said | February 11th 2018 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

        well it seemed last night that England are not as fit as Wales – perhaps the injuries a reason ( tho not a good one 🙂 )

        Wales gained ascendancy in the last 30 minutes with their bench – compared to England.

        maybe the England’s 3rd and 4th level are not as good or fit. maybe its a one-off , got to wait n see.

        there has been a lot said about the fitness camps of Eddie Jones – specially when a few guys hurt trying to learn Judo skiills.

        They are saying the exeter flanker may never play again.

        Is Jones a good coach? yes he is , but then dont discount his assistants. if one needs to see the definition of “synergy effect” , then i think it is Eddie and his team of assistants.

        it was same with japan – Borthwick was with japan as well ( others am not sure).

        • February 11th 2018 @ 8:40pm
          FunBus said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:40pm | ! Report

          I’m not sure the last 20 were a negative with regard to England’s fitness. They got off the floor time and time again and kept Wales out, who were desperately throwing the kitchen sink at them.
          They’ll definitely by one of the fittest, if not the fittest, side in Japan.

          • February 11th 2018 @ 8:55pm
            cuw said | February 11th 2018 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

            They kept “WALES” out , coz they lacked imagination. Shingler kicking ahead ? DUH

            knocking on on the oark when going down in a tackle ? seriosly?

            and a great tackle from Sam Underhill – that is why Eddie wants to keep him wrapped in cotton wool.

            they broke the England defence time and again – im sure more breaks happened in the last 20 than in the first 60.

            England constructed one good try – nicely drawing out the defence . but made plenty of mistakes – i wonder Eddie also throws boots at players like Sir Alec Ferguson 😀

    • Roar Guru

      February 10th 2018 @ 7:18am
      Kia Kaha said | February 10th 2018 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      Kudos, Conor. Really well put together and an enjoyable read.

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