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Post by tigertattie on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 2:16 pm

Right folks, having an argument at work about which country has the best back row!

Most of the arguments being put forward are utter nonsense so I've come here to see if there's a better class of argument to be had! (Yes I know this is risky on 606)

Which country do you think has the best current back row and why?
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Post by Hazel Sapling on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 2:48 pm

Depends on style of play, form and how much depth you are after.

Best starting back row on form for a team that likes to play would be Fardy, Hooper and Pocock for me. There is no weak link. All can be lifted at the line out especially Fardy. All can carry. Hooper and Pocock are terriers at the breakdown. Fardy is no slouch either. The connecting play of Hooper and Pocock is the best that can be brought to my mind.

NZ are the next best with Kaino/Cane/Read for a fast game. They would be superior to Aus if you include depth as S Whitelock, Shields and Dixon all come through. I would put Scotland and Japan in this category too with but they are nowhere near NZ/Aus level.

For a more stodgy affair it is between an the Irish of POM, SOB and Stander (who are all big ball carriers and tacklers) and the English of Robshaw, Haskell and Vunipola mix (all big ball carriers and tacklers).

-The only reason I have not gone for Ireland definitely is because POM and SOB seem to be injured a lot so getting that 3 on the field is tougher than it looks. Has it actually been managed?

-The English are actually pretty darn good with the work that Robshaw does around the park and Vunipola's carrying. Haskell is a bit of a weak link but is by no means a disaster.

Haskell is a better choice than Lydiate who is the weak link for Wales and SA/France is all over the place at the moment due to quotas/general dysfunction. Seen the Argentinians and they are okay but not objectively better than Wales, SA and France. If France and SA sort themselves out they will be potentially the best in this category.

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Post by aucklandlaurie on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 2:53 pm


New Zealand's starting starting back row tomorrow night is Kaino, Todd and Read.

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Post by Fluxy on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 3:08 pm

aucklandlaurie wrote: New Zealand's starting starting back row tomorrow night is Kaino, Todd and Read.

Don't think they are referring to the actual current starting back rows. 

For me the Argentine back row is up there, just for work rate and carrying, and general all round play.

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Post by RugbyFan100 on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 3:10 pm

I think Ireland's. O'Brien and Heaslip when on fire are right up there with any.

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Post by tigertattie on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 3:32 pm

I'm pretty old school so I go for a tackling 6, a ball carrying 8 and a fetching 7.

The Oz back row is great but they are in essence playing two opensides. I think they are missing a big ball carrier.

Modern rugby does seem to be changing though! We're often seeing back rows becoming more dynamic and ball carrying is being left to the second rows more and more.
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Post by Poorfour on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:02 pm

Hard to disagree with Hazel Sapling, except to say that in the Australia tour England's back row was anything but stodgy, and Haskell anything but a weak link. It's not a conventional back row, but given its mission was essentially to disrupt the opposition, it succeeded brilliantly considering the back row it was facing.

Sure, Eddie is cutting his coat according to his cloth until he can find a 7 he likes (probably Underhill), but he's making it work.
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Post by lostinwales on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:07 pm

tigertattie wrote:I'm pretty old school so I go for a tackling 6, a ball carrying 8 and a fetching 7.

The Oz back row is great but they are in essence playing two opensides. I think they are missing a big ball carrier.

Modern rugby does seem to be changing though! We're often seeing back rows becoming more dynamic and ball carrying is being left to the second rows more and more.

Individually the Oz back row are brilliant. As a combo England outplayed them. Also worth saying that although Fardy is handy enough in lineouts the other two are not, and both are better at the high profile glory stuff rather than the hard work bit (Leaving Fardy to do the work of 3 and end up, not surprisingly, looking poor as a result). If the front 5 are able or allowed to dominate the opposition it can be a very effective looking back row, but you don't really have the muscle to help out the front 5 if they are struggling.

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Post by lostinwales on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:11 pm

Poorfour wrote:Hard to disagree with Hazel Sapling, except to say that in the Australia tour England's back row was anything but stodgy, and Haskell anything but a weak link. It's not a conventional back row, but given its mission was essentially to disrupt the opposition, it succeeded brilliantly considering the back row it was facing.

Sure, Eddie is cutting his coat according to his cloth until he can find a 7 he likes (probably Underhill), but he's making it work.

To be fair in the past Haskell has mixed up the sublime with the ridiculous, but when he is at the top of his game he is very good. I don't think he has ever been as consistently good as he was in Oz but he was man of the series based on the 2 games he played.

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Post by Poorfour on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:51 pm

lostinwales wrote:
Individually the Oz back row are brilliant. As a combo England outplayed them. Also worth saying that although Fardy is handy enough in lineouts the other two are not, and both are better at the high profile glory stuff rather than the hard work bit (Leaving Fardy to do the work of 3 and end up, not surprisingly, looking poor as a result). If the front 5 are able or allowed to dominate the opposition it can be a very effective looking back row, but you don't really have the muscle to help out the front 5 if they are struggling.

I've long thought Fardy doesn't get the plaudits he deserves, but it's harsh to describe Pocock as a glory boy. His work rate is phenomenal. In the run up to the RWC, one of the Aussie fan sites did some interesting analysis that showed how much he gets through in a game.

I don't have the link to hand, but broadly it went like this. In an earlier bit of analysis by the same guys, they showed that Robshaw delivers the work rate of an impact sub like Mako, but over the whole 80 minutes. Overall he was doing about 30% more than anyone else in the England team in most games... but Pocock was doing 20-30% more than even that.

As for Haskell, I totally agree he's blown hot and cold in the past, but in his 7 games for England since Eddie took over he's never been less than good and was frequently excellent.
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Post by lostinwales on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:54 pm

Poorfour wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Individually the Oz back row are brilliant. As a combo England outplayed them. Also worth saying that although Fardy is handy enough in lineouts the other two are not, and both are better at the high profile glory stuff rather than the hard work bit (Leaving Fardy to do the work of 3 and end up, not surprisingly, looking poor as a result). If the front 5 are able or allowed to dominate the opposition it can be a very effective looking back row, but you don't really have the muscle to help out the front 5 if they are struggling.

I've long thought Fardy doesn't get the plaudits he deserves, but it's harsh to describe Pocock as a glory boy. His work rate is phenomenal. In the run up to the RWC, one of the Aussie fan sites did some interesting analysis that showed how much he gets through in a game.

I don't have the link to hand, but broadly it went like this. In an earlier bit of analysis by the same guys, they showed that Robshaw delivers the work rate of an impact sub like Mako, but over the whole 80 minutes. Overall he was doing about 30% more than anyone else in the England team in most games... but Pocock was doing 20-30% more than even that.

As for Haskell, I totally agree he's blown hot and cold in the past, but in his 7 games for England since Eddie took over he's never been less than good and was frequently excellent.

Apologies you are right Pocock is pretty unique. However I'd still suggest that for all his brilliance he's still on the small side. Its not a problem to have one lightweight back row but it can be if you are playing 2.

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Post by LordDowlais on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 4:58 pm

No contest, NZ back row is the best, they also have the best everything else as well. The only back row I have seen come close in recent months was the Welsh one when they were touring, Faletau was ripping them a new one on occasions.

The difference is, that the New Zealand back row do it for 80mins +. The Welsh back row were fecked after about 60/65mins.

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Post by tigertattie on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 5:26 pm

I personally have Fardy as one of the top 3 blindsides in world rugby! He's a work horse and because Pocock and Hopper (though brilliant) are a bit lightweight, a lot of ball carrying is done by Fardy. While everyone was tooting about the Hooper/Pocock pairing at the last world cup, Fardy had an absolute stormer of a tournament! Perhaps as he was below the radar he got a lot of freedom to do his own thing?

Pocock to me is an out and out 7. He's fantastic at it! But he's not a fantastic 8, but will do a job if needed.

The Welsh back row is a bit meh for me. I find that Falatau is not as good as he is hyped up to be and Lydiate hasn't moved on with the game. As a combined unit, I don;t rate the Welsh back row that highly.

Surprisingly I find England have a great balanced back row. I know folk don't rate Robshaw but when he plays for England he is immense! Haskell has really come on since the arrival of Eddie and Big Billy is a ball carrying monster!

Then there is my lot! If we convince our coaches to stop picking Wilson then we'll have a very very good back row. I'm still dreaming of the day when we can roll out Struass at 6, Du Preez at 8 and Hardy at 7
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Post by ChequeredJersey on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 8:23 pm

Lots of countries have great backrows for the way they play, and out of all positions there is almost unmatched flexibility in how you utilise your backrow. I'd say all the home nations, France, Australia and SA and even NZ post McCaw have essentially equal backrows some of which hit better form or match up better against others and offer different things to the game. Personally I think Argentina's is very underrated however
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Post by ChequeredJersey on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 8:26 pm

I also think that Ireland's backrow now possibly doesn't include both SOB and POM even if they are both fit!
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 9:03 pm

Haskell has played 7/8 games since jones took over and has possibly been one of the best back rowers in world rugby!

Hes been given a role and by god hes been crazily effective. If he was a Kiwi or Aussie everyone would be calling him a god!!! and dreaming of having a player like him in the side.

Hooper divides my opinon. I rate him highly and he does suit the Aussie style (which is what matters) ...but I feel he hangs out in the backs to much. He should just move to centre.

I want my backrowers in the mix all the time...not just out in the backs.

I think the Welsh back row on its day is VERY impressive aswell.

The bigger question is what do you want....individual players like the Aussie back row...or a unit like England with very clear duties and instructions.



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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 9:07 pm

tigertattie wrote:I personally have Fardy as one of the top 3 blindsides in world rugby! He's a work horse and because Pocock and Hopper (though brilliant) are a bit lightweight, a lot of ball carrying is done by Fardy.  While everyone was tooting about the Hooper/Pocock pairing at the last world cup, Fardy had an absolute stormer of a tournament! Perhaps as he was below the radar he got a lot of freedom to do his own thing?


I agree 1000% with that. Fardy is the foundations...class player

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Post by Rory_Gallagher on Thu 20 Oct 2016, 10:26 pm

Argentina have the best 6 and 8 combination in the world in my opinion. Pablo Matera and Facundo Isa are both the complete package in defence and attack. Isa in particular is one of the best ball carriers around. If they had a real menace at 7 they would take the cake.

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Post by bedfordwelsh on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 8:14 am

aucklandlaurie wrote:
New Zealand's starting starting back row tomorrow night is Kaino, Todd and Read.

According to the wonderful WOL Tipuric would be in that backrow now hahahahahahaha
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Post by True Raven on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 8:55 am

bedfordwelsh wrote:
aucklandlaurie wrote:
New Zealand's starting starting back row tomorrow night is Kaino, Todd and Read.

According to the wonderful WOL Tipuric would be in that backrow now hahahahahahaha

Maybe you should read the article rather than just headlines as you'll notice it was Maafu Fia (an ex super xv player from NZ) who said tipuric would be good enough to play for the all blacks

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Post by bedfordwelsh on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 8:56 am

I did I read it in the WOL which was my first mistake by reading that garbage, which is all they ever print.
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Post by beshocked on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 10:16 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:Haskell has played 7/8 games since jones took over and has possibly been one of the best back rowers in world rugby!

Hes been given a role and by god hes been crazily effective. If he was a Kiwi or Aussie everyone would be calling him a god!!! and dreaming of having a player like him in the side.

Hooper divides my opinon. I rate him highly and he does suit the Aussie style (which is what matters) ...but I feel he hangs out in the backs to much. He should just move to centre.

I want my backrowers in the mix all the time...not just out in the backs.

I think the Welsh back row on its day is VERY impressive aswell.

The bigger question is what do you want....individual players like the Aussie back row...or a unit like England with very clear duties and instructions.  



Clear duties and instructions is an important point though.

Haskell has been effective as he has because of the players around him too.

Players need to bring the best out of each other.

Haskell IMO would not be as praised as much as he has without the rest of the England pack. The most influential Wasps player last season was George Smith not Haskell IMO.

Robshaw is the most underrated English player, we English are guilty of underrating him too. He's not got the physicality or power of others but he's got a good rugby brain and engine. He's been Mr Reliable IMO.

He also survived the RWC whilst others like Wood,Barritt,Wigglesworth,Parling and T.Youngs were casualties.


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Post by fa0019 on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 11:44 am

I would say man for man that AUS are right up there. The only problem is that if their front 5 get smashed up (and at the moment it happens a lot) then all their prowess is sort of meaningless. If within parity I would say they shade NZ... but generally they do not get front five parity. Perhaps the blend lacks a big ball carrier.

SA, well crikey at the moment they're maybe 4th 5th 6th best at the min and there doesn't seem to be any bright sparks for future hope. Ireland really impressed when they were down in SA, for me they were dominant in that department (probably should have won the series also).

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Post by Notch on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 12:00 pm

Argentina have some very handy back rows. Matera and Isa are going to be around for years. Will be curious to see if they will continue to flatter to deceive in the years to come.

But I think rather than looking at individuals we should look at who is getting the quickest ball from the breakdown, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't New Zealand. Not just great individuals- a great unit.
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Post by fa0019 on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 12:10 pm

Notch I sort of agree.

I think those days are sort of gone where flanks were operating on their own. Look at Pocock... not the quickest, not the most agile,  but his game is all built around setting traps and working with his teammates to ambush opposition players who go 1-2 metres too deep into AUS territory without clearout men directly on their shoulder.

The modern forward is a bit like the old school blindside. Good lineout jumper, ball carrier, tackler and turnover magnet. I recall in the old days when commentators would laugh at locks for taking the ball in... "leave it to the backrow experts etc". These days they are perhaps a teams second-third phase ball carriers in many sides.

England with Itoje steal a lot of ball so that sort of flank is not perhaps as necessary as before and they can field a borderline nutcase like Haskell to wreck the opposition in his own way.

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 2:24 pm

England's game under Eddie hasn't been based on going for turnovers. Haskell has just been used to hammer at the breakdown and slow the opposition down by clearing out, or hammer at the breakdown and speed England's ball up by clearing out.

It's a simple enough tactic that compensates for Haskell's deficiencies in decision-making but makes full use of his freakish physicality. It also only works because, as beshocked points out, Robshaw can be relied upon to identify what else needs doing and get it done. (Presumably why Eddie says he sees Hughes as competition for Vunipola).

From his comments when the EPS was announced, I think Eddie was hoping that Harrison could play a more traditional openside role, but he clearly wasn't able to do it with the intensity required at international level. Longer term he clearly hopes that Underhill can fill that role.

He's also looked at Williams, Jones, Evans and Clifford as 7s, 3 of whom are out and one of whom (Evans) needs to do some growing before being ready. Kvesic has been looked at by both Lancaster and Jones and seems to be lacking something.

It'll be interesting to see whether he calls up anyone else at 7 when the squad convenes. Itoje seems to be the pundits' choice, which would be supported if he calls up an extra lock. Beyond that there's Fraser and Wallace, neither of whom seem to be favoured. My dark horse remains James Chisholm, who prefers playing 8 but can and does play 7 and is probably the most similar player to Underhill in size and physicality.
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 2:56 pm

Poorfour wrote:Kvesic has been looked at by both Lancaster and Jones and seems to be lacking something.

My dark horse remains James Chisholm, who prefers playing 8 but can and does play 7 and is probably the most similar player to Underhill in size and physicality.

Its curious what they don't see in Kvesic...id like to know their thoughts.


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Post by aucklandlaurie on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 4:31 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
tigertattie wrote:I personally have Fardy as one of the top 3 blindsides in world rugby! He's a work horse and because Pocock and Hopper (though brilliant) are a bit lightweight, a lot of ball carrying is done by Fardy.  While everyone was tooting about the Hooper/Pocock pairing at the last world cup, Fardy had an absolute stormer of a tournament! Perhaps as he was below the radar he got a lot of freedom to do his own thing?


I agree 1000% with that. Fardy is the foundations...class player


Interesting comments, and I somewhat agree with both of you, yet this week Cheka couldnt even find a place for Fardy on the bench, playing Mumm at 6.

Possibly its Fardy bringing less lineout options that is counting against him?

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Post by lostinwales on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 9:26 pm

In the Eng Oz series I just sometimes thought that Fardy got a lot of blame when it was really the back row combination that was at fault. He had so much to do that of course mistakes came. Set up to fail then blamed for the failure

Hooper in contrast scored a hat load of tries, which seems to be why he is so loved, but him and McMahon didn't have much impact in what in theory is their primary role.

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Post by robbo277 on Fri 21 Oct 2016, 10:10 pm

Rory_Gallagher wrote:Argentina have the best 6 and 8 combination in the world in my opinion. Pablo Matera and Facundo Isa are both the complete package in defence and attack. Isa in particular is one of the best ball carriers around. If they had a real menace at 7 they would take the cake.

I love watching Argentina play, and I think Matera and Isa are incredible players. I think they are a bit guilty of overplaying their hand at times, but IMO it's better to do that now and then gain experience and nous and learn how to win games, rather than developing a pragmatic game and then trying to learn the ability to cut loose.

Definitely my second team.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sat 22 Oct 2016, 9:43 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:
Hooper divides my opinon. I rate him highly and he does suit the Aussie style (which is what matters) ...but I feel he hangs out in the backs to much. He should just move to centre.

I want my backrowers in the mix all the time...not just out in the backs.

I think the Welsh back row on its day is VERY impressive aswell.

The bigger question is what do you want....individual players like the Aussie back row...or a unit like England with very clear duties and instructions.  

Interesting. Perhaps Hooper was guilty of that in the series against England? I wouldn't know for certain as I didn't watch enough of it. In the past however I think Hooper has been one of the best all-around 7's in the world; good at carrying, defending and getting the turnovers.

If anyone in Wales can be accused of hanging out in the backs too much then it's Tipuric and definitely James Davies. Both have been overhyped to the hills but in fairness to Tips he can play well at international level and as of late, he's been playing like more of a flanker and getting stuck in rather than standing out wide waiting to pop-pass. Davies is good at turnovers and not much else, John Barclay often outshines him but gets far less plaudits. The unit of Lydiate, Warburton and Faletau is very effective but they need to be fit to be effective. I can't remember the last time that was... Even now Faletau is injured and Lydiate and Warburton will likely be thrown in having played 3-4 games between them. I wouldn't start either.

Individuals or a unit, well it's often the unit that is more effective. Some teams happen to have both though, like the All Blacks.

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Post by tooboredtowork on Sun 23 Oct 2016, 9:41 am

For me NZ and Aus have the best.

As a one off player I have always rated SOB. Injured a lot, but on form he is nothing short of unplayable.

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Post by fa0019 on Mon 24 Oct 2016, 10:19 am

its swings and roundabouts.

In 2002-2003 England had backup players of Moody, Worsley & Corry... who were easily superior to anyone in Europe in their own right.

5 years ago SA had so many loose forwards  to chose from it was exhausting even to see who should get into the squad yet today they're scraping the barrel to get 3 quality players on a field at any one time.

I do think however that NZ and AUS, the one thing they do create with high frequency are genuine opensides. Most European opensides have been closer to 6s than genuine 7s.  Peter Winterbottom & Oliver Magne were probably the last great European (genuine) opensides.. at the moment I'd say Warburton is just one notch down from those 2. Neil Back was a great player but for a slightly different reason, his defence and fitness was superb (can anyone remember him dropping a tackle?). Even SA have never really produced one of note bar Frans Louw who is probably close to Warburton in quality and type... Schalk Burger, Corne Krige, Rueben Kruger have been the dominant opensides for what 20 years.

Robshaw.... run!

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Post by Poorfour on Mon 24 Oct 2016, 12:45 pm

Back was an excellent genuine open-sided, as was Hill (who was probably the best blindside in the world at the time, and it wasn't even his best position).
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Post by fa0019 on Mon 24 Oct 2016, 12:51 pm

Poorfour wrote:Back was an excellent genuine open-sided, as was Hill (who was probably the best blindside in the world at the time, and it wasn't even his best position).

I agree on him being a world class player and flanker, 100%. But he was a different type of player in the traditional sense. He rarely made steals, rarely acted as a ball carrying link man.. but his defence, mauling (probably nobody better in history of the game) and fitness were outstanding and in truth his style suited England down to a T. Even then do you ever see him taking the ball into contact or pinching ball?

I recall the days when he was seen as a luxury who would never get a realistic spot due to his size and lack of traditional merits.. yet he would come in make every tackle and organise mauls to a T. Bit of a one off really.

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