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Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's

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Hood83
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gowales
AsLongAsBut100ofUs
B91212
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yappysnap
kiakahaaotearoa
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formerly known as Sam
king_carlos
Comfort
tooboredtowork
funnyExiledScot
Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler
Geordie
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Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's Empty Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's

Post by Geordie Thu 23 Feb 2012, 2:55 pm

Got talking about it on another thread and thought id put it out there.

Why are we producing more and more 6.5 type players and so few actual 7's.

Is it the state of the game in England that isnt suitable for out and out 7's...or is it that clubs prefer back rowers to be more jack of all trades...carrying, tackling, breakdown work etc..but not essentially the best at any?

Who is coming through at the moment that actually fills the criteria as a true 7. Kvesic? Wallace? Are they really out and out 7's?

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Thu 23 Feb 2012, 2:59 pm

http://www.espnscrum.com/six-nations-2012/rugby/story/157462.html

Rowntree admitted that producing a genuine ball-poaching openside flanker is now a priority.

New Zealand's Richie McCaw, Australia's David Pocock and Wales captain Sam Warburton proved the value of having a player of that ilk during the World Cup. Wood, Chris Robshaw, Tom Croft, Calum Clark and Phil Dowson can play across the back row, but Rowntree acknowledged that England need to develop an openside specialist.

The Saxons squad features Saracens' Andy Saull, Exeter's Tom Johnson and London Irish flanker Jamie Gibson, while Worcester's Matt Kvesic is banging on the door.

"You can't argue with how Tom Wood has played in the number seven shirt for Northampton this season," Rowntree said. "He had a great Six Nations last year. We all know his frustrations at the World Cup. He's playing well at the moment.

"Chris Robshaw has probably been the form back row in the Premiership over the last few months. There's a couple of good sevens there and Dowson has played seven too. I'm sure Tom Croft could play seven too so we have enough good cover there.

"We know what Saully can do, we have been looking at him for a long time. We are looking to develop that type of player to bring into a senior squad. We haven't got a natural groundhog or ball-stealing seven so we're looking to develop one in the Saxons. Saully fits the bill, so does Matt."


Saull and Kvesic are the long term project players to take that role on. England dont have their head in the sands on this, but equally arent selecting players for the senior side when they dont feel they are good enough or ready.

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Post by Geordie Thu 23 Feb 2012, 3:07 pm

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:http://www.espnscrum.com/six-nations-2012/rugby/story/157462.html

Rowntree admitted that producing a genuine ball-poaching openside flanker is now a priority.

New Zealand's Richie McCaw, Australia's David Pocock and Wales captain Sam Warburton proved the value of having a player of that ilk during the World Cup. Wood, Chris Robshaw, Tom Croft, Calum Clark and Phil Dowson can play across the back row, but Rowntree acknowledged that England need to develop an openside specialist.

The Saxons squad features Saracens' Andy Saull, Exeter's Tom Johnson and London Irish flanker Jamie Gibson, while Worcester's Matt Kvesic is banging on the door.

"You can't argue with how Tom Wood has played in the number seven shirt for Northampton this season," Rowntree said. "He had a great Six Nations last year. We all know his frustrations at the World Cup. He's playing well at the moment.

"Chris Robshaw has probably been the form back row in the Premiership over the last few months. There's a couple of good sevens there and Dowson has played seven too. I'm sure Tom Croft could play seven too so we have enough good cover there.

"We know what Saully can do, we have been looking at him for a long time. We are looking to develop that type of player to bring into a senior squad. We haven't got a natural groundhog or ball-stealing seven so we're looking to develop one in the Saxons. Saully fits the bill, so does Matt."


Saull and Kvesic are the long term project players to take that role on. England dont have their head in the sands on this, but equally arent selecting players for the senior side when they dont feel they are good enough or ready.

Which is a refrshing change...

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 23 Feb 2012, 3:08 pm

I think there is something in the way that AP teams play, particularly in the more wintry conditions. The game does seem to be far tighter and therefore more emphasis is placed on big hits and big carriers than on covering the ground quickly and recycling, therefore the standout players are those who are more allrounders than specialists.

The series of injuries to Tom Rees have I think robbed you of a top class 7 who would be peaking around now. Saull is widely tipped to be next in line but I personally think he needs to be playing the big games as first choice at Sarries. Wallace at Quins is another coming through strong, as is Matt Kvesic at Worcester.

Personally I see no real issue with Wood and Robshaw together on the flanks as a left/right combination, with Morgan at 8. I think Wood and Robshaw are good enough allrounders to compliment eachother. Were I coaching England that's where I'd be with Croft and Saull both on the bench.

I certainly don't see a need to rush this.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Thu 23 Feb 2012, 3:18 pm

Theres also been an emphasis on trying to deveop atheltic back row players over the last few years, with the traditional skill sets of the 8 too being somewhat overlooked. The law change and directives were suppossed to have lessened the importance of traditional "cheating" sevens too, but as weve seen form Mccaw Pocock and to some extent Arburton that actually hasnt been the case.

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Post by tooboredtowork Thu 23 Feb 2012, 3:47 pm

ARMITAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Kvesic not yet get regular club starts. Will be good.

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Post by Comfort Thu 23 Feb 2012, 3:56 pm

fully agree with FES, Wood/Robshaw/Morgan is a very good backrow, playing a more Sarries type gameplan at the breakdown there isnt a definitive need for an out and out 7.

Never really thought Armitage was used to his potential either, a strong ball-carrying 7 who was a menace on the floor.

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Post by king_carlos Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:05 pm

I think we are producing 7's in the current crop coming through such as Saul,Gibson,Kvesic,etc (Armitage has come and gone it seems).

I think the overlooked problem in the last generation however was that Hill and Back were both such exceptional players if Back was injured Hill simply slipped into the modern openside role of 'poacher' and if Hill was injured Back could almost make up for it. Together that's why they were exceptional because they were both world class poachers who could've played open or blind. Hence the back ups and following generation blooded in their time (Moody,Worlsey,Sanderson,Corry,etc) were all realistically 6's who could play 7 as that's all England needed.

Reading back if any of that second paragraph makes sense to others I'll be happy!! OK

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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:12 pm

Interesting to see that Steffon Armitage has been a stand out performer for Toulon since his move last summer. There's some big names in that team and replacing Smith at openside was no small challenge. I've only caught a couple of the games live and he scored in both with the reports I've heard from France very positive.

How long's his contract out there?

Kvesic and Gibson talented youngsters but they are playing right across the backrow rather than specialising at the moment and Saull has been up and down in terms of form. Johnson at the Chiefs has been playing blindside and will continue to do so whilst Scaysbrook is at the club.

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Post by munkian Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:19 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:I think there is something in the way that AP teams play, particularly in the more wintry conditions. The game does seem to be far tighter and therefore more emphasis is placed on big hits and big carriers than on covering the ground quickly and recycling, therefore the standout players are those who are more allrounders than specialists.

The series of injuries to Tom Rees have I think robbed you of a top class 7 who would be peaking around now. Saull is widely tipped to be next in line but I personally think he needs to be playing the big games as first choice at Sarries. Wallace at Quins is another coming through strong, as is Matt Kvesic at Worcester.

Personally I see no real issue with Wood and Robshaw together on the flanks as a left/right combination, with Morgan at 8. I think Wood and Robshaw are good enough allrounders to compliment eachother. Were I coaching England that's where I'd be with Croft and Saull both on the bench.

I certainly don't see a need to rush this.

Because its not cold in Wales, Ireland and Scotland ? Have you been to any Rabbo games - I've nearly lost fingers and ears before
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Post by tooboredtowork Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:26 pm

Armitage is by far the best 7 England have. Still young enough to be at his peak come 2015.

Andy Hazel rated him the best 7 in the prem. That from someone who has a few miles under his belt.

That being said, whilst he is in France England have to stick to their rule of not selecting from abroad. Unless not having any decent 7s playing here counts as "exceptional circumstances".

6 Robshaw
7 Armitage
8 Morgan

= balance!

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:31 pm

Is Armitage a real poacher though? I saw him more as a clear out merchant and rock ( almost like a front row) in the rucks and a fat rumbling ball carrier ( like Morgan) in the loose. He has his strengths but I dont see him as a Neil Back out and out classic 7.

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Post by bluestonevedder Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:46 pm

Armitage is the out and out English 7- excellent all round game, and a very good poacher.

Coming through the ranks there's Wallace, Kvesic, Saull, Gibson...

My only concern is that Saull is extremely hot and cold. He got destroyed in the Saxons games, and would too easily be ripped off the ball while competing on the deck in internationals. He's not of the same frame as Pocock, Warbs, Brussow, etc.
Gibson similarly is very tall (6'5 I think), and won't also have the strongest breakdown positioning.

Wallace and Kvesic are the two front runners for me. Both prototypical height and decent size for their age. Both good on the deck also. Worryingly for Kvesic though, is that Worcester play him regularly at 8, rather than 7. Hopefully when he does become a regular, it will be in the 7 shirt. Saying that, the other young Worcester 7 Jake Abbott is pretty useful...

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:54 pm

Why 6.5? Because England are at sixes and sevens with their backrow selections.


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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:54 pm

I think Kvesic playing 8 is actually helping his development. His awareness of the opposition defence, his scrum half and running lines are all improving which will lead to him being a more imposing ball carrier when he returns to play flanker. The Great Richard Hill played 6,7,8 for England and it never did him any harm, if anything I think it helped him read the game better. Agree re Abbott.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:54 pm

I didn't mention Armitage because I haven't seen him play this season - my ignorance.

He's a solid unit of a 7 if ever there was one.

Munkian - obviously it's as cold and colder in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but it doesn't seem to affect the style of rugby as much. Perhaps that's because of the non-relegation status of the Rabo12 or something like that, I don't know, but games in the Rabo12 over the winter seem to be more open than the AP. I have no stats to back that up, just an impression.

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Post by bluestonevedder Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:57 pm

FES Armitage has been playing really well in France. Check out this website

http://www.rugbydump.com/

and there's some highlights of the Toulon vs Stade Francais game from the weekend. Armitage played out of skin, and there's some great clips of his play in the video!

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Post by tooboredtowork Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:58 pm

No. Worcester pressed him into action as an eight when all our other eights were out injured. Have now signed Cowan from Pirates, so Kvesic is on the bench as cover for Abbott and Betty.

Richard Hill sees Kvesic as a 7. When we were playing Abbott, Kvesic and Betty, Hilly admitted that he was playing "three sevens in the back row."

He will be a terrific player, but is rightly behind Abbott at the momment and we have Neil Best to come back as a six and Horstmann to come back as an eight. My worry is then Kvesic will be third choice 7. Still that gives an indication that he is not ready for senior international action - but it won't be long.

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Post by munkian Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:03 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:I didn't mention Armitage because I haven't seen him play this season - my ignorance.

He's a solid unit of a 7 if ever there was one.

Munkian - obviously it's as cold and colder in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but it doesn't seem to affect the style of rugby as much. Perhaps that's because of the non-relegation status of the Rabo12 or something like that, I don't know, but games in the Rabo12 over the winter seem to be more open than the AP. I have no stats to back that up, just an impression.

Another reason might be that they've evolved with the game more - England haven't been competative in the breakdown for a while now
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Post by yappysnap Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:05 pm

He is a really good little poacher, surprisingly quick and really tough to move once he's latched on over the ball.

He could still get a chance in the future

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Post by bluestonevedder Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:08 pm

tooboredtowork wrote:No. Worcester pressed him into action as an eight when all our other eights were out injured. Have now signed Cowan from Pirates, so Kvesic is on the bench as cover for Abbott and Betty.

Ah sorry toobored, I didn't realise that was the case. I thought they were experimenting with him. Why hasn't Abbott ever been considered for England or the Saxons?

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Post by munkian Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:09 pm

bluestonevedder wrote:
tooboredtowork wrote:No. Worcester pressed him into action as an eight when all our other eights were out injured. Have now signed Cowan from Pirates, so Kvesic is on the bench as cover for Abbott and Betty.

Ah sorry toobored, I didn't realise that was the case. I thought they were experimenting with him. Why hasn't Abbott ever been considered for England or the Saxons?

He has a British passport ? Run
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Post by HammerofThunor Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:14 pm

It's been suggested that English refs had been more strict with the IRB directive for defenders (including supporting tacklers) releasing the tackled players before playing the ball. However the 'top' English refs (e.g. Wayne Barnes) don't seem to be very strict (see Wales v South Africa during the WC). So it might all be bull.

Regarding Abbott (Worcester born) he's played for the sevens side but is only 23 and Worcester were down a season so would think he's only really pushing his name forward now.

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Post by tooboredtowork Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:14 pm

I think Abbott is too lightweight for international rugby. Just my personal opinion.

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Post by B91212 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:30 pm

HammerofThunor wrote:It's been suggested that English refs had been more strict with the IRB directive for defenders (including supporting tacklers) releasing the tackled players before playing the ball. However the 'top' English refs (e.g. Wayne Barnes) don't seem to be very strict (see Wales v South Africa during the WC). So it might all be bull.
I actually think there is some truth in this. Yes certain ref's are not as strict but as a rule for the last couple of years English ref's haven't really allowed for any challenge at the breakdown which is part of the reason both England and English teams in Europe have struggled. Why play a poacher if he isn't going to be allowed to challenge for the ball when they can exchange him for a bigger ball carrying and tackling lump?

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Post by B91212 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:32 pm

Not convinced by Saull. Even though he is more traditional size 7 he seems to be more of a link type flanker than an out and scavenger. I totally understand why Berger is first choice at Saracens (with Brown at 6).

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Post by yappysnap Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:35 pm

Wallace will be the 7 of the future

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:41 pm

yappysnap wrote:Wallace will be the 7 of the future
Bold prediction, yappy - thought he started the season extremely well, but hasn't he faded a little as of late? Could be completely wrong there ...

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Post by yappysnap Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:45 pm

I wouldn't say so ASBO, he still makes the turn overs and links well but probably isn't as big news as the whole Quins team has faded from their start of the season form.

Check out his hand in the try against LI two weeks ago, superb!

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Post by gowales Thu 23 Feb 2012, 5:56 pm

To be fair there aren't a lot of out and out 7's in world rugby. If you look at the super rugby sides barely any have one. Argentina don't use poachers either.
Looking at Europe. Ireland barely have any, Scotland have quite a lot strangely!, Wales have quite a few youngsters but not older ones, France have never had poachers.

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Post by yappysnap Thu 23 Feb 2012, 7:59 pm

That is all very true GoWales, but all those sides listed have players who can help cover the position. Every team has someone who can be trouble at the breakdown they just may not always have 7 on their backs.

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Post by Rory_Gallagher Thu 23 Feb 2012, 8:53 pm

About Kvesic - both Warburton and McCaw started out their rugby careers playing at number 8. However I remember when Warburton first came into the international game for Wales, he was described as a 6.5. I don't think teams need a "breakdown specialist" anymore, but every team must learn how to secure ball at the breakdown, and how to compete. The best teams share the role IMO. Even McCaw does a lot more now than just compete at the breakdown, because he has Kaino and Read and others to help. And to me he is a better player for it, and the NZ backrow is more balanced than ever.

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Post by Hood83 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:02 pm

I actually think that most of the top international 7s mentioned - Pocock, McCaw, Warburton etc are exceptional largely for their all round games. Of the three, Pocock is probably the most specialist 7, but McCaw and Warburton's all round games are incredible. Warburton, despite not being huge, is a great ball carrier, and it was this that first made him look international quality. If anything his breakdown work was fairly average at first, but has developed hugely since.

The main thing that sets these three, and probably Brussouw (sp?) apart is their fitness and work-rate, which is immense. I honestly think if Robshaw was a little quicker he wouldn't be far off them.

Anyway, what i'm trying to say is - i think you can get away without having an out and out 7 - you could argue France don't either - so long as you have players who can do their bit there and act as an effective breakdown collective. I think a lot of the concern has come from Ireland's two losses to Wales. Everyone's used this as evidence that without a 7, you cant be at the very top. I think it certainly helps, but McCaw, and i suspect Warburton, are once in a generation type players. I think us English should concentrate on making sure ALL our backrowers have good breakdown skills, including the ability to turn over ball.

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Post by Hood83 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:03 pm

Sorry Rory i think i repeated your message somewhat!

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Post by Rory_Gallagher Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:10 pm

Great minds think alike eh? Wink

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Post by Hood83 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:34 pm

Have to say i never thought Armitage would be big enough for international rugby, and i still have my doubts about him in the tight. But that clip was a great reminder of how effective he can be, completely forgot how quick he is!

Also, i happen to think the rule on not allowing French based players to be called up is complete and utter BS and totally self-defeating

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Post by Hood83 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:35 pm

Rory_Gallagher wrote:Great minds think alike eh? Wink

Well, in this case your great mind was clearly quicker than mine, but glad we're in agreement thumbsup

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Post by flankertye Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:38 pm

Dan cole is incredible at the rucks, put him at 7.

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Post by robbo277 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:49 pm

bluestonevedder wrote:FES Armitage has been playing really well in France. Check out this website

http://www.rugbydump.com/

and there's some highlights of the Toulon vs Stade Francais game from the weekend. Armitage played out of skin, and there's some great clips of his play in the video!

I watched that highlight's package on RugbyDump as well. If the highlights are anything to go by, he had a stormer. Great finish for his try, try-saver in the opposite corner, smashing runs, he was always at the heart of everything good Toulon did in those highlights.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:52 pm

Hood83 wrote:Have to say i never thought Armitage would be big enough for international rugby, and i still have my doubts about him in the tight. But that clip was a great reminder of how effective he can be, completely forgot how quick he is!

Also, i happen to think the rule on not allowing French based players to be called up is complete and utter BS and totally self-defeating

There isnt any such rule, but its not unreasonable that players who wont be available for games or training sessions will only be considered if theres a lack of alternatives.

Lancaster also has a policy that players should show they want and will work for the shirt. Moving to France puts club rugby and earnings ahead of England duties. That doesnt show commitment to international rugby whether armitage was seriously in the frame to be picked at the time he signed the contract or not.

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Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's Empty Re: Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's

Post by PJHolybloke Thu 23 Feb 2012, 10:46 pm

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:Is Armitage a real poacher though? I saw him more as a clear out merchant and rock ( almost like a front row) in the rucks and a fat rumbling ball carrier ( like Morgan) in the loose. He has his strengths but I dont see him as a Neil Back out and out classic 7.

"fat rumbling ball carrier" Peter? Shocked

Armitage, S. is anything but a rumbler, he may be a bit on the chunky side but he has genuine pace and has an instinctive nose for the ball. He runs what most coaches would describe as "unconventional" lines from set pieces, but more often than not is at the breakdown at a point and time that he can be most effective, whenever I've watched him, he's always seemed to be 2 or 3 phases in front of the current play, he's absolutely solid in defence and offers a real attacking threat in the loose. He also has a very good disciplinary record..... Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's 590675

I wrote an article on the old 606 before the Tigers v Exiles '09 play-off final about Armitage having the potential to be a world class 7, it was largely ridiculed at the time, and probably would be more so today, but I still believe he has the tools to be right up there if given the chance. He was given half a chance in the 2010 6N then dumped unceremoniously from the squad for reasons best known to someone else.

In terms of experience and ability, I still believe he is the best option England have of a natural snaffler with the added value of an attacking threat, but since his move to Toulon, his chances of a game for England are off the scale, a total shame if you ask me, he's got more talent than his better known brother and Armitage, D. has been indulged like a petulaent child when it comes down to the England squad; it should have been the other way around, it would have been a far better investment IMO.
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Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's Empty Re: Englands 6.5's....Where are the 7's

Post by bluestonevedder Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:15 am

robbo277 wrote:

I watched that highlight's package on RugbyDump as well. If the highlights are anything to go by, he had a stormer. Great finish for his try, try-saver in the opposite corner, smashing runs, he was always at the heart of everything good Toulon did in those highlights.

Yeh he really did have a stormer! I don't get to watch too much Top 14, but I think the general consensus is that he is playing very very well. Shame about the RFU's foreign rule!

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:16 am

bluestonevedder wrote:
robbo277 wrote:

I watched that highlight's package on RugbyDump as well. If the highlights are anything to go by, he had a stormer. Great finish for his try, try-saver in the opposite corner, smashing runs, he was always at the heart of everything good Toulon did in those highlights.

Yeh he really did have a stormer! I don't get to watch too much Top 14, but I think the general consensus is that he is playing very very well. Shame about the RFU's foreign rule!

Again what rule?

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Post by bluestonevedder Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:25 am

Just their whole policy on picking foreign-based players. Correct me if i'm wrong, but Steffon moved out there after the rule was introduced, so has effectively zeroed his chances of international selection?

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Post by bluestonevedder Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:26 am

just read your comments further up PSW, I apologise about bringing it up again!

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Post by Geordie Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:31 am

BlueStone,

Was that not just Martin Johnsons stance that he wouldnt pick anyone. I didnt think it was an actual part of their contracts.

Also...even MJ went against that rule in what he claimed was "exceptional " circumstances....by picking Palmer, Wilko, Thompson when he was aborad etc.

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Post by bluestonevedder Fri 24 Feb 2012, 9:36 am

Yeh maybe I'm just a bit confused. My understanding was that Palmer, Wilko and thompson were picked because they moved to France before the rule was applied, but I'm not sure anymore!

Regardless, I'd like to see Armitage around the squad again at some point, as off-field antics don't run in the family Shocked

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Post by gowales Fri 24 Feb 2012, 3:39 pm

I thought it was an RFU stance

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Post by HammerofThunor Fri 24 Feb 2012, 5:21 pm

MJ and RA came out and said that moving abroad would harm they're chances at playing for the international side due to the missing training periods. Wilkinson and Haskall at least had the release periods in their contracts so it wasn't an issue. I doubt Palmer did.

It was no more a 'rule' that Gatland's. It was just expanded on by the media (for a change).

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Post by Islingtonv2 Fri 24 Feb 2012, 5:41 pm

gowales wrote:I thought it was an RFU stance

agreed i thought it was a stance rather than a rule. The "except in extenuating circumstances" (sp?) has not yet been tested or defined as far as i'm concerned.

Wilkco, Morgan being picked wouldn't fall under this loophole because the RFU stance allows for grandfathered contracts. Considering the stance has yet to be broken it would imply the RFU are being very strict about it although things can always change.....

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