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NH debrief - and ways forward

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Post by MarcusHalberstram Sun 18 Oct 2015, 10:42 pm

The results of this weekend will be analysed to death and agonised over for the next four years.  If you were being positive you could say that for a few strokes of luck, Scotland and Wales could have both been in the semi-finals.  On the other hand we can look at the results and just say the NH sides all came up short again.

I thought I’d start a thread for NH (and SH) fans to dump their thoughts on the NH sides as a whole and how/if they think problems can be fixed in the coming years.

NH sides
Firstly I think the most common problem for all NH sides is that passing and attacking skills are just generally poor in comparison to SH sides – and especially compared to the ABs.  To be honest, I thought some of the so-called 2nd-tier nations displayed better attacking skills than the 6N sides (Japan and Canada immediately spring to mind).  Let’s face it, to call sides like Japan 2nd tier is a little ridiculous.  1st tier right now is basically the 4N.  Us 6N sides are basically 2nd tier.  And Argentina are only going to get better too – their Super Rugby team will basically BE Argentina.  They could easily be the best side in the world in a few years given how familiar they’re likely to become with each other.  

I think that up here in the NH we have serious issues in developing core skills for professional rugby players.  The primary focus at youth level should be improving handling skills.  I also think our club season structure and the 6N is not helping us at all.  The 6N quality is clearly not developing the kind of attack-minded rugby needed to succeed at the RWC.  

Just a few thoughts I had on some of the NH sides as seen in this RWC:

Wales
My own team, so naturally I’m likely to be a little biased on judgement.  What impressed me most about Wales was their attitude this year.  I don’t think anyone relishes playing us these days, and our defence is now one of the best around.  The persistence of spirit has been fantastic to see and made me very proud – especially since in the past we’ve seen so many Welsh sides that just roll over and give up when the going gets tough.

Our primary issue is obvious for all to see – attack.  Sure – we had an absurd injury crisis, but even with a full deck we’ve had trouble scoring tries in the last couple of years.  More so than any NH side, we really need to discover some attacking intent and ability.  If we could do that, we could still become a genuine force to be reckoned with (most of our players are still young enough to make at least another RWC), but sadly it seems that the distribution skills required are just absent from many of our backs.

Ireland
Ireland with a full head of steam and with their fanatical fans (the world’s loudest) screaming them on is something few sides can live with.  But this strength is almost a weakness since they seem to be a side that need to be emotionally-engaged and full of aggression in order to perform (even more than most).  They also seem to now be heavily reliant on set-plays, of which we’ve all been told that Schmidt is a mastermind.   The problem is, these plays seem very prescriptive, need to be executed perfectly and, right now, rarely seem to come off.  

Like Wales, Ireland were ultimately very unlucky with losing so many key players before their quarter final – but I have to say, I think Sexton has become overrated and is nowhere near the form he was in a year or two back.  In fact, I’d thought that the Irish team in general seemed to be off form – and even in the 6N weren’t as good as many had them down as.  For the warm-up games there was lots of talk about how they had been conditioned to peak in the RWC and that Schmidt was holding things back, but I didn’t buy it.  If I was Irish I’d have been pretty worried about how ordinary they looked against Wales (in the second game) and England.  

For all that, I think that the despair and “sack the coach” shouting coming from some Irish fans now is a little knee-jerk.  Ireland were dealt a very bad hand with the injuries sustained against France.  Would they have beaten Argentina with a full deck of cards…?  Who knows.  

England
Despite how much fun it’s been for us all to watch the English fans and media tear themselves apart, we all know England could well appoint a new coach and go on to win a 6N Grand Slam next year, just as Wales did in 2008.  England still have resources the rest of us can only dream of – though as long as they operate their current club system I can’t see them ever making the most of them.

They were unlucky to end up in the “group of death”, but I guess in hindsight their failure to win big matches (6N deciders) in the last few years was a worry.  When they were playing well during the last year or so, I have to say England’s attack looked probably the most exciting of the NH sides.  

Scotland
I can only imagine how heart-broken the Scots fans are after today’s loss.  Obviously they’ve had it fairly rough the last few years, but there are at finally signs of improvement, I guess.  The 6N may be a little “devalued” in terms of measuring us all against SH opposition, but I don’t think anyone will really take Scotland seriously until they start winning 3 or 4 games in the 6N.  I hope Cotter can get their standard up, because it can only be good for the NH sides.  At the moment we basically have Ireland, Wales and England contesting the 6N every year and the blue sides there to make up the numbers.  It’s clearly to the detriment of NH rugby and the sooner the standard is raised across the board the better.

France
Let’s face it, despite what the Irish fans may want to believe after last week, France are fairly awful and have been for years now.  They rarely look like they give two hoots about things, and I just don’t get them at all.  Can’t really say much more than that to be honest.

Your thoughts and criticisms most welcome!  

Interested to hear all your thoughts on how we can drag NH rugby up to the top table.

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Post by FecklessRogue Sun 18 Oct 2015, 11:24 pm

The best way to win at rugby is to score tries. The best way to score tries is by using pace and space. We need to accept that. But we won't. We'll forget about this soon and get pumped up about us bludgeoning ourselves to death in the 6 Nations.
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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 12:03 am

Wales are on even ground since the beginning of the competition.  Still with lots of bite no matter who shows up to take up positions left by injured fall-offs.  Testament to Gatland's famous conditioning systems, methinks.
They always take teams to the edge but seem to require a lot of gold-dust themselves to fall over the right side of that edge.

England backtracked a little.  Still have a lot of cards (many more than most of us here in the NH).  They can re-jig and reshape and away they go, still a devil to beat in the 6Ns and probably still a handful for any SH side that comes up to play them over the next number of seasons.  I don't think they missed much this time except some very off rushed decisions on personnel and then................. well, it was a choke against Australia.

France haven't gone either way.  Have some players now that have lengthening teeth and even though they are formidable physical specimens, they were thrown around the place like ragdolls by the ABs.  The ABs were in that mood to humiliate the French.  I guess they've listened to too much schidt about the rivalry and decided to bury it.
Yes, France have a lot of work to do but will be getting a coach in who knows what good work is.  Like England, they have the ingredients - it's just a case of moulding them into a unit.  They'll be back sometime.  Let nobody say that was not a violent game Ireland had to endure against them.  Took the stuffing out of both teams evidently!

Italy.  They've gone nowhere really.  Almost beat Ireland but Ireland were infinitely beatable on that day anyway.  Parisse can't keep going on.  Another new coach might give them some more little hopes to cling to.

Ireland have backtracked.  Still after all these years trying to offload reliance on old boys.  Will need to take risks from here on in with younger blood and an advanced plan.  The one Schmidt has been using is only part a plan - it's crying out for evolution...and legs!  Yes injuries undid our shape but it shouldn't have.  At this level a squad should have better survival instincts.  The pool of potential players seems light right now but that's the colouring of another disappointing shot at this WC.

Scotland definitely most improved.  And you could see it arriving slowly even before this WC.  They have a hardened edge now and seem to have a lot of juice for the final 40 that seems to be the real kill-zone in Modern rugby.  They look a unit, they look increasingly strong together emotionally, they fight for each other.  Could be a real contender for a high position this year in the 6Ns.

Feck the 6Ns! - the consolation prize for NH rugby.

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Post by blackcanelion Mon 19 Oct 2015, 12:10 am

Simple solution. Most obvious for me is reduce the number of club games in England and France. Look at the NFL, NRL and other contact sports. I think even French are starting to realise this. I think there's is plenty of talent. But you have to have a system that allows players to improve. I think you'd see a big jump in the quality of club sides as well.

The other thing I'd look at is moving and changing the make-up of the 6 nations.

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Post by GavinDragon Mon 19 Oct 2015, 6:23 am

Yep just work on basic attacking skills.

Interesting that on scrumV last night, Martyn Williams said that in 2002 when Hansen took over as Wales coach. He would have them just running up and down the pitch for hours working on their handling skills for hours, and that regime is generally credited for our excellent attacking displays vs England and NZ in the 2003 RWC and also the foundation for our 2005 GS.

The problem was we lacked physicality and played too lateral. Gatland has made us very physical and very direct, but at the expense of those basic attacking skills.

Still I do see a mindset shift at age grade level in Wales. In the u10's I coach, one of the boys has made the district squad a year early....not because he his big (he isn't, he is small for a 10 year old) but because he carries the ball in two hands and is able to spot space and put a pass in. I am told he made the squad at the expense of a few boys who made length of the field scores (due to their size) but also consistently turned the ball over in contact

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Post by offload Mon 19 Oct 2015, 7:41 am

I'm not going to comment on ways foward for the NH. I will repeat my observations watching NZ on Saturday. Two things stood out above anything else - fantastic basic skills and very simple rugby. That's it.

When the whole team can execute basic skills, with power and withour errors, you win.
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Post by aucklandlaurie Mon 19 Oct 2015, 7:53 am

You guys start playing rugby (or Rugby League or sevens) too late.

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Post by Notch Mon 19 Oct 2015, 8:17 am

1) Move the Autumn International window to September
2) Reduce number of club games and compress the club season into six months, from November to April. There should be roughly half as many league games as there are now.
3) Six Nations begins in April and runs through May.
4) Summer tours in June.
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Post by HammerofThunor Mon 19 Oct 2015, 8:30 am

Notch, the main reason those changes won't happen is because of money. The 6 Nations guy (Feahan?) has said the 6 nations fills an empty slot in the sports coverage so they can get more money. Similar with the European cup spread across the year. For the Irish, perhaps the move is to pull out of the pro12. Play in the European cups and prior inter province for training, etc. So you can play 6-9 games in European and the at least 6, if not 12 games in the interpros.

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Post by Hood83 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 8:35 am

aucklandlaurie wrote:You guys start playing rugby (or Rugby League or sevens) too late.

This won't change anytime soon so we'll have to work out ways around it. Football is the sport most want to play, probably followed by a few others before rugby. The consequence is players who are not the country's best athletes and who often come to the game a little late. I think that's apparent most with our forwards. We'll need to work out mechanisms to fast track skill levels, but I'm not sure that's even possible

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 19 Oct 2015, 8:59 am

Don't forget...how many players the NH have lost through injuries.

And England just got the selections wrong.

This WC we just suck it up like men and say hey we lost it. All the NH countries have the players...they are all developing (well England need to sort a few things out) and will show that.

I know its little consolation but a 6n team will win it in 2019.

But first lets start doing clean sweeps of the teams in the Autumn internationals.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:10 am

I honestly believe, that if Wales had all their players fit, then they would still be in this WC. If we had John Davies or Scott Williams on the pitch against Australia we would have won.

We all saw the difference not playing Pocock made for Australia yesterday. It is bad enough losing one or two of your 1st 15, but when you lose over half of your 1st fifteen then you will always struggle. I have no worries for Wales, even if they carry on as they are, we are showing that we can compete.

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Post by MarcusHalberstram Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:23 am

To be fair Lord, Wales competed so well that even I'd lost sight of how many losses we've sustained. I think Scott Williams was a HUGE loss for Wales. I agree about the Australia game - with him in the centre I'm confident we would have scored in that infamous period. Because we didn't lose any forwards we were still able to compete against Aus and RSA, but with seriously depleted firepower. Scott Williams, Liam, JD in particular were huge losses - and so we were always going to struggle to score tries.

Another question is why have the NH seemed to have suffered so many injuries compared to the SH? The finger was being waved at over-conditioning, but surely games-per-season is a more obvious factor?

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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:32 am

Everyone has injuries. SA have lost their captain and their vice-captain.

I recall a few years ago a test coach said that you have to expect 20% injuries to your team at any one time. Any less and they see it as a bonus. So that's 3 players.

Take Wales. The most injury ridden team...

They had their entire first choice pack out. Biggar, North and Roberts and hell Davies has been the find of the season... 4 tries, 4 games or something. Can't see how Webb could improve on him.
So at best they had 4 players out which could have improved the side.

That's not injury ravaged given the circumstances and a tournament always has its toll on the physical condition of players. It does make a difference and you could call it luck/misfortune etc but that's the nature of the game today and most teams go through with it.
Ireland were very unlucky with injuries mind. To lose their top 4 players inc. captain, kicker (and pivot) in one game is definitive bad luck. But Argentina were so strong I'm not sure it would have mattered to the overall result.

The way Ireland lost though was what is wrong with NH rugby. They're so drilled, so robotic... the in defence "I stand here" philosophy rather than playing what's in front of them. The players in the NH love their gym far too much also. The SH players are big but they don't all look like Ivan Drago 2.0. They want to compete in every breakdown.. even when they have no chance of winning. Argentina, AUS they sit back half the time almost allowing a deeper drive into midfield to isolate players and then go for the steal.

Argentina within 3 years of playing 6 RC tests a year have evolved into a special team with great backs. Everyone should be worried.

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Post by GavinDragon Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:34 am

While I agree injuries more than played a part, the basic skills of even our first choice backline leave a lot to be desired and it is something coaches at all levels should take responsibility for

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:36 am

Good points fa but for Wales and Ireland it's more a case of their Kiwi coaches instructing them to play in their distinctive ways. Both are very capable to play in a more open running style, but those styles to be fair to them have worked.

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Post by SneakySideStep Mon 19 Oct 2015, 9:50 am

The domestic European game doesn't seem to require the same skill set as that which is key in the international game. For instance, I find it strange that England can't produce a bunch of foraging flankers. The standards of hookers is all over the place - surely several can be found who can throw the ball into a line out with repeated accuracy, even under pressure. Where are the backs who playing for space and not just take contact. As for passing and catching, we're simply not up to the standards of the SH at the moment.

It's not all doom and gloom and we certainly should not simply try to emulate the SH, but we need to be less formulaic and have better basic skills.

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Post by Biltong Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:00 am

Look the Springboks are fortunate to be in the semi, they have many of the same issues the NH teams have, so I am probably not the right bloke to offer advice.

It is one thing to have backline players with pace and power, it is quite another to have them understand space, how to create it (without practiced moves ) naturally, how to exploit it, how to know how to run into space, how to delay the offload, how to offload into space etc.

For me backline play is about only two things, space and getting the ball there.

Something we fail with continuously.
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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:04 am

Also for instance Wales have to acknowledge they keep on playing the same strategy and keep on coming up short vs. the 3N sides.

Its not that they are simply not better, they get close everytime but can't seem to unlock defences. 2 tries in 3 matches vs ENG, AUS and SA (with the SA one being very lucky/very skillful individually). That's simply not good enough.

They're predictable. What is Wales' gameplan in attack. First phase Roberts crashes in, second phase Jones, Lydiate again. Third phase North/Cuthbert comes inside or its spread... fourth phase, if they haven't made ground, straight to biggar for a kick. Its not rocket science... hell even 3 cap Sam Burgess had it well under wraps when he left the field at 60 mins.

These are guys who are supremely talented. But they won't win matches against the big boys that way. They did last december against a ravaged bok side... 10 of whom in the starting lineup didn't even make the squad (and not through injury)... and it was tryless then too.

Wales have trouble scoring tries... and its nothing to do with the quality of the players.

Gatland did find success with the Lions with this method I acknowledge this. However their are specific reasons for this. It was against a poor AUS team broken mentally. Hell they were so poor upfront they could actually chose Tom Youngs and still remain dominant upfront, as well as Mako. Also they had a clutch of top class players that he won't have with Wales. He was able to make 11 changes after the 3rd test without knocking the team... you can't do that in national rugby. Its a luxury that having 50-60 seasoned test players to chose from. Even NZ doesn't have that.

Its not just straight line ball running, its predictability. You have to remain flexible, versatile else teams will read you too easy. Did Wales ever really threaten the boks line bar Le Roux's high ball fumble?

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:13 am

I think this whole NH/SH thing is getting blown out of all proportion.

Argentina put an injury ravaged Ireland to the sword.

Wales had nearly half a dozen first team starters in casts or waiting for their next physio appointment when they played an arguably full strength South Africa.

Scotland were one dodgy lineout call/ref decision (whichever way you want to look at it) from beating Australia.

So I’m not buying this SH dominance. It’s a SH dominated semi final but I don’t think that necessarily reflects the gulf in skill or ability to play rugby.

France I leave out of it. Their problems at club level are not indicative of NH rugby.
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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:16 am

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:I think this whole NH/SH thing is getting blown out of all proportion.

Argentina put an injury ravaged Ireland to the sword.

Wales had nearly half a dozen first team starters in casts or waiting for their next physio appointment when they played an arguably full strength South Africa.

Scotland were one dodgy lineout call/ref decision (whichever way you want to look at it) from beating Australia.

So I’m not buying this SH dominance. It’s a SH dominated semi final but I don’t think that necessarily reflects the gulf in skill or ability to play rugby.

France I leave out of it. Their problems at club level are not indicative of NH rugby.

SA have lost both their captain and their vice captain. Injuries is an bad excuse only. Have Wales underachieved vs. the 3N sides? No they got their usual, close but no cigar result. Had it been different then sure but they only actually had 3/4 players out. i.e away from a full strength on paper side. Having 3 players out at any one time is usual.

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:20 am

My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.
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Post by Biltong Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:20 am

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:I think this whole NH/SH thing is getting blown out of all proportion.

Argentina put an injury ravaged Ireland to the sword.

Wales had nearly half a dozen first team starters in casts or waiting for their next physio appointment when they played an arguably full strength South Africa.

Scotland were one dodgy lineout call/ref decision (whichever way you want to look at it) from beating Australia.

So I’m not buying this SH dominance. It’s a SH dominated semi final but I don’t think that necessarily reflects the gulf in skill or ability to play rugby.

France I leave out of it. Their problems at club level are not indicative of NH rugby.

Who were the players Wales missed?

Halfpenny (which a number of Welsh supporters doubted)
Jonathan Davies
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Post by LordDowlais Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:20 am

fa0019 wrote:So at best they had 4 players out which could have improved the side.

Ok so that is 4 players out, then the next best behind them out as well. So much so this WC we have seen benches make an impact, we have not had that luxury. We could not freshen things up by bringing on Liam Williams for Halfpenny or one of our wingers, we had Lloyd Williams on the bench, imagine how much better it would have been to have Gareth Davies on the bench for Rhys Webb.

Against Australia we had a winger in the center, we were finishing of games with scrum halfs on the wing FFS. We ended up playing a teenager in the center against time proven internationals with nobody to come on and make an impact, if you think none of this makes a difference then I am sorry we will have to agree to disagree.

If Wales had a full compliment, we would still be in the WC weather you agree or not.

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Post by offload Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:21 am

fa0019 wrote:Also for instance Wales have to acknowledge they keep on playing the same strategy and keep on coming up short vs. the 3N sides.

Its not that they are simply not better, they get close everytime but can't seem to unlock defences. 2 tries in 3 matches vs ENG, AUS and SA (with the SA one being very lucky/very skillful individually). That's simply not good enough.

They're predictable. What is Wales' gameplan in attack. First phase Roberts crashes in, second phase Jones, Lydiate again. Third phase North/Cuthbert comes inside or its spread... fourth phase, if they haven't made ground, straight to biggar for a kick. Its not rocket science... hell even 3 cap Sam Burgess had it well under wraps when he left the field at 60 mins.

These are guys who are supremely talented. But they won't win matches against the big boys that way. They did last december against a ravaged bok side... 10 of whom in the starting lineup didn't even make the squad (and not through injury)... and it was tryless then too.

Wales have trouble scoring tries... and its nothing to do with the quality of the players.

Gatland did find success with the Lions with this method I acknowledge this. However their are specific reasons for this. It was against a poor AUS team broken mentally. Hell they were so poor upfront they could actually chose Tom Youngs and still remain dominant upfront, as well as Mako. Also they had a clutch of top class players that he won't have with Wales. He was able to make 11 changes after the 3rd test without knocking the team... you can't do that in national rugby. Its a luxury that having 50-60 seasoned test players to chose from. Even NZ doesn't have that.

Its not just straight line ball running, its predictability. You have to remain flexible, versatile else teams will read you too easy. Did Wales ever really threaten the boks line bar Le Roux's high ball fumble?

Good points. I have argued the same but in Wales there are too many who counter that we are just one score away, or that if only 1/2p was playing etc and that we need more of the same because we are on track. We are a one dimensional team, coached to play one way. It only works some of the time. Against Australia we lacked the basic skill and composure to create space against 13 players.

At this WC some of the so called minnows have done the basics very well and scored some great trys.
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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:22 am

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

Could have said that in 1995, 1999, 2007, 2011, 2015 though to be fair. Its not that far different but different enough that the issue remains the same as it ever was.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:25 am

Biltong wrote:Who were the players Wales missed?

Halfpenny
Liam Williams
John Davies
Scott Williams
Rhys Webb
Cory Allen
Eli Walker

So that is three or four first teamers, and the next best to replace them, as I have said earlier, we did not have the first choice back line, or the second choice back line, when we needed impetus from the bench, we did not have it. This is where our WC started to fray away.

Also, lets not forget, Samson Lee was coming into this world cup after a couple of months out, and Paul James was injured for the most part.


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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:26 am

NH brief - the ways forward.....

...like lemmings - over a cliff.

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Post by rodders Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:26 am

The global game needs to be aligned with the NH playing rugby in the summer - summer tours and AIs, and as a result the IRB rankings aren't giving a real reflection of the relative strength of the nations.

The RC is just a different level to the 6N and this tournament has shown that the so called tier 2 teams like Japan, Fiji, Tonga, Georgia are as close to the 6N and the 6N is to the RC teams.

The 6N is also suffering because France, the one NH side who could play with the pace and power of the SH, have been so poor over the last few years and reverted to a one dimensional forward driven durge - which isn't surprising because this is what the Top 14 is producing and what is most effective in the European cup.

I'm afraid that with the PRL and French club owners now calling the shots in  European rugby, the NH international teams will fall further behind as the top clubs prop themselves up with SH players and a win at all costs mentality while the SH focus on producing their next generation or world beaters.  

That said Scotland should have made it and with a bit of luck with injuries Ireland and Wales might have done better but the reality is every time the NH came against any of the big SH teams they've come short and in some cases been blown away.
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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:28 am

LordDowlais wrote:
Biltong wrote:Who were the players Wales missed?

Halfpenny
Liam Williams
John Davies
Scott Williams
Rhys Webb
Cory Allen
Eli Walker

So that is three or four first teamers, and the next best to replace them, as I have said earlier, we did not have the first choice back line, or the second choice back line, when we needed impetus from the bench, we did not have it. This is where our WC started to fray away.

Also, lets not forget, Samson Lee was coming into this world cup after a couple of months out, and Paul James was injured for the most part.

Eli Walker, Cory Allen, Scott Williams are not first teamers though... They would improve your squad sure but they would not get into a Wales 1st XV barring injury to others. Even Liam Williams is debtable.. and Webb, well Davies has been the find of the season, I wouldn't even bring him back given Davies has been probably the most red hot player in the NH at this years RWC.

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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:30 am

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

So what keeps them at arm's length?  What keeps the gap (however small) in existence?

Meanwhile, there is a gap closing.... its the tier 2 sides biting the tier 1 NH Nation's asses.

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Post by offload Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:34 am

SecretFly wrote:
RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

So what keeps them at arm's length?  What keeps the gap (however small) in existence?

Meanwhile, there is a gap closing.... its the tier 2 sides biting the tier 1 NH Nation's asses.

On the tier 2 progress, it's clear to me. We have seen excellent basic skills, strong set pieces, good decision making and great coaching. Much of which is missing in some tier 1.
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Post by LordDowlais Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:34 am

fa0019 wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
Biltong wrote:Who were the players Wales missed?

Halfpenny
Liam Williams
John Davies
Scott Williams
Rhys Webb
Cory Allen
Eli Walker

So that is three or four first teamers, and the next best to replace them, as I have said earlier, we did not have the first choice back line, or the second choice back line, when we needed impetus from the bench, we did not have it. This is where our WC started to fray away.

Also, lets not forget, Samson Lee was coming into this world cup after a couple of months out, and Paul James was injured for the most part.

Eli Walker, Cory Allen, Scott Williams are not first teamers though... They would improve your squad sure but they would not get into a Wales 1st XV barring injury to others. Even Liam Williams is debtable.. and Webb, well Davies has been the find of the season, I wouldn't even bring him back given Davies has been probably the most red hot player in the NH at this years RWC.


You are either missing the point, or deliberately ignoring it to suit your argument.

The thing is, we had first choice players out, AND the next best to replace them. Imagine if we had Rhys Webb AND Gareth Davies. If one of them was tiring then we had a replacement of equal caliber. We had nobody to replace our wingers, our replacement fullback was injured along with our first choice, we did not have the bench to change anything, we were finishing games with a scrum half on the wing. We had to call up Anscombe, but we had NO replacement for him, we had to rely on players starting the game to see the game out, when they have been smashing the opposition for 60-70 mins.

Also, I forgot in that list Hallam Amos, who went off against England and never came back.

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Post by rodders Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:35 am

SecretFly wrote:
RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

So what keeps them at arm's length?  What keeps the gap (however small) in existence?

Meanwhile, there is a gap closing.... its the tier 2 sides biting the tier 1 NH Nation's asses.

Because a misaligned global season and the odd one off result gives the illusion that there isn't a gap - but when the chips are down and the SH teams go through the gears we can't live with them.

Even when the NH teams win it is based around stopping them playing rather than outplaying them.
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Post by 2ndtimeround Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:36 am

fa0019. I think your over simplifying the players out for Wales, the problem didn't lie so much in the number of 1st choice positions missing, it was the number missing in the same positions, this meant that at 12, 15 and wing we were reduced to picking whoever was left and using players out of position from the start of matches, I do think there where better options available to Gatland within the squad but everyone that took the field gave everything they had so I cant be to down on the team.

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Post by R!skysports Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:38 am

rodders wrote:
SecretFly wrote:
RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

So what keeps them at arm's length?  What keeps the gap (however small) in existence?

Meanwhile, there is a gap closing.... its the tier 2 sides biting the tier 1 NH Nation's asses.

Because a misaligned global season and the odd one off result gives the illusion that there isn't a gap - but when the chips are down and the SH teams go through the gears we can't live with them.

Even when the NH teams win it is based around stopping them playing rather than outplaying them.

I think Scotland is trying to play at least :-(

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Post by beshocked Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:40 am

To be honest I find it strange that Schmidt hasn't tried to implement a Leinster gameplan with Ireland. That's what I would do. I think Ireland should stick with him though.

Ireland should keep their eyes on Mark Mccall - he's got the potential to be a future Ireland coach. Not yet though.

As for Wales, unfortunately it's the same result, another loss to another tri nations team under Gatland. Wales - excellent against 6 nations sides but when it comes to the tri nations not good enough. Perhaps where Wales should go from here is to sack Rob Howley and get a new backs coach as I believe Gatland is on a long term contract.

England of course need to get rid of Lancaster and co and they can take Ian Ritchie with them. The ideal solution would be bringing in Wayne Smith, sprinkled with some promising English coaches like Baxter and Gustard.


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Post by fa0019 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:43 am

I don't wash over injuries. It does have an impact, it can even be a huge impact i.e. Ireland losing their captain, pivot and arguably next 2 best players from one match to another. But when can you say you don't have injuries? It is any worse then before... yes but cater for a difficult tournament like a summer tour... many injuries happen as match intensity is greater, players push themselves harder both in games and in training.

The boks lost their captain and their VC. Everyone brushes that aside. I just don't see injuries as the core reason for the loss. Had you had full strength and you got over the line just over a team with injuries would have said different? Its not like Wales results are different then before... beat England in an armwrestle, lose to aus, lose to SA... both times close no try scored in either. Nothing unusual there.

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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:44 am

rodders wrote:
SecretFly wrote:
RuggerRadge2611 wrote:My comment stands. The SH aren't THAT far ahead. They still retain supremacy, results indicate that much.

But the gap is not as huge as some are suggesting.

So what keeps them at arm's length?  What keeps the gap (however small) in existence?

Meanwhile, there is a gap closing.... its the tier 2 sides biting the tier 1 NH Nation's asses.

Because a misaligned global season and the odd one off result gives the illusion that there isn't a gap - but when the chips are down and the SH teams go through the gears we can't live with them.

Even when the NH teams win it is based around stopping them playing rather than outplaying them.

Just so. And that can begin to be rectified if people get real and admit that those gears aren't there because mostly between WCs the Northern Hemisphere gets bloated on its own self importance again, and the money and the massive crowds and the traditions.... and the rugby that isn't nearly good enough.....

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:46 am

England made the same mistakes they did four years ago. Build a game-plan and team over the period leading up to the world cup, and chuck it out the window just before. Four years ago they build their midfield around Flood Hape and Tindall, only to suddenly switch it completely come RWC. Madness! This time they decided to completely change the team and the way they play for the biggest game against Wales!

Ireland seem to have gone backwards since the AI. Yes they won the 6N, but not very convincingly (IMO). In the matches against the other top 4 teams they scored two tries, one from a "shot-to-nothing" kick when playing a penalty advantage. For me they play a very structured game, but one which doesn't create enough tries, and their defense can't keep bailing them out.

Wales have a similar problem at creating tries. Again, in this WC two tries against the top three teams they played: one from first phase possession, the other from an up-and-under. No multi-phase attacks finished off. Doesn't seem like a new problem either. OK they were missing their more creative backline players, but still.

France are just poor, and have been for a while. A miraculous run to the final four years ago, where they beat an awful England by playing 40 decent minutes, squeaked past 14-man Wales due to Wales missing loads of kicks, before turning in a fine performance against a nervous NZ, has led to some still hanging onto the "on their day" myth. But really, France have been awful for a while now, and their expected strengths (front-row dominance, big bruising runners) didn't work.

Scotland have been the brightest spot. Convincing win against a dangerous Japanese side, and did well to hold off a fine Samoan performance in what was a nervous game for them. Could/should have beaten Australia, and showed some good ability ball in hand. Could still be regretting not putting their best side out vs SA, but ultimately, maybe Cotter just hasn't had enough time with the team quite yet. Should be confident of good things going forward, now need a good 6N to confirm. Absolute minimum of two wins, and should be targeting a tournament win.

Italy (since one should mention them) turned in a decent performance against Ireland, though Ireland were poor. Other than that, they were non existent. Don't seem to be going anywhere.

So overall I'm not sure it's a collective malfunction, but it does seem to me that the 6N sides don't score enough tries, particularly form multi-phase play. Maybe they spend too much time practising "set moves" and not enough practising their skills to execute them better?

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Post by rodders Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:50 am

beshocked wrote:To be honest I find it strange that Schmidt hasn't tried to implement a Leinster gameplan with Ireland. That's what I would do. I think Ireland should stick with him though.

Ireland do play a lot like Leinster - committing 2 men in the ruck - but Schmidt identified that in international rugby the space is mainly in behind the defense so has focused a lot on the kicking game.

At Leinster he also had guys like Nacewa, Horgan, D'arcy, Sexton, O'Driscoll who were really good footballers, whereas for Ireland the players haven't been there to get some of these more intricate power plays to work as well.

I don't think it's a case that we haven't tried but Argentina's aggression in defense and breakdown made it difficult to attack, similar to the Italy game - Argentina just dominated the collisions and breakdown.
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Post by funnyExiledScot Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:51 am

Despite the SF lineup, I don't think the NH/SH gulf is any wider or narrower than in the past.

Scotland and Wales were both a whisker away from a SF place.

Since 2003 (the last team an NH side was actually the best side in the world) we had 2007, a dreadful WC where France and England scraped past NZ and Aus by two points in the QF. Similar sort of margin to Wales and Scotland this time round. Then came 2011, where the draw guaranteed two NH sides in the Semi-Finals.

I personally don't think we should make too much about the SF line-up this time around. I don't think it's indicative of the gap being any wider than it was in 2011. The most surprising result was the Ireland one, when the 6 Nations champions were destroyed by Argentina. I thought that game would be close, but that was a real eye opener. I'm just annoyed that Scotland won't have a shot against Argentina in the next round.

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Post by 2ndtimeround Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:52 am

As for how to improve the performance going forward.
I doubt we will with the Celtic nations until something is done to improve the quality of the officiating in the pro12.
There is currently to much emphasis in our league on getting away with things to gain an advantage, if all the officials where full time professional and employed by the league itself we would see a rapid improvement in the quality of the control of the games our players play in weekly and our players will soon learn to stick within the laws to gain advantage instead.
I would love to see some of the TV money reinvested into actually making the league a world class product, if this happens then we will be halfway to sorting out most other problems with Celtic rugby.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:54 am

2ndtimeround wrote:As for how to improve the performance going forward.
I doubt we will with the Celtic nations until something is done to improve the quality of the officiating in the pro12.
There is currently to much emphasis in our league on getting away with things to gain an advantage, if all the officials where full time professional and employed by the league itself we would see a rapid improvement in the quality of the control of the games our players play in weekly and our players will soon learn to stick within the laws to gain advantage instead.
I would love to see some of the TV money reinvested into actually making the league a world class product, if this happens then we will be halfway to sorting out most other problems with Celtic rugby.

I could not agree more. Well said that man, well said. clap clap clap

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Post by protea438 Mon 19 Oct 2015, 10:55 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:

This WC we just suck it up like men and say hey we lost it. All the NH countries have the players...they are all developing (well England need to sort a few things out) and will show that.


This line here is the problem. Always developing always rebuilding. Why is it taking so long to rebuild. I read the other day England are building for 2019 (i heard this before they were knocked out) Shocked Shocked

Surely between 2 and 4 years should be enough - there is a lot of rugby been played 6 Nations, inbound tours and outbound tours - that is about 11 games a year (that is a lot of rugby)

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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:07 am

rodders wrote:
beshocked wrote:To be honest I find it strange that Schmidt hasn't tried to implement a Leinster gameplan with Ireland. That's what I would do. I think Ireland should stick with him though.

Ireland do play a lot like Leinster

No we don't rodders.  There isn't a hint of the dynamism of Leinster about this Ireland.  
And no in theory the blueprint didn't have to be adapted to suit International.  
Schmidt has just lost his nerve or doesn't trust the ability of his squad to deliver it at International intensity levels (and if he believes that he sure has a point - as that's our major problem - we're not conditioned for true high tempo International participation)  
So he's had to modify his ambitions to suit the player's speed and conditioning levels and he's done a bloody good job of disguising our shortcomings and giving us a platform still to win games.
But in Ireland we're simply now well off the conditioning standards required to compete.  That's our major issue and needs serious addressing.  Fix that, be serious about fixing it, and the players and positions and gameplans available to Schmidt will improve.

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Post by SecretFly Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:09 am

protea438 wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:

This WC we just suck it up like men and say hey we lost it. All the NH countries have the players...they are all developing (well England need to sort a few things out) and will show that.


This line here is the problem. Always developing always rebuilding. Why is it taking so long to rebuild. I read the other day England are building for 2019 (i heard this before they were knocked out) Shocked Shocked

Surely between 2 and 4 years should be enough - there is a lot of rugby been played 6 Nations, inbound tours and outbound tours - that is about 11 games a year (that is a lot of rugby)

It's certainly proved enough for Argentina.

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Post by beshocked Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:10 am

protea438 the problem England have had is picking two very inexperienced coaches in succession - Johnson and Lancaster.

Instead England should look to pick a proven international coach like Wayne Smith,Eddie Jones or Jake White and have some good English coaches as lieutenants to learn and improve.

England has good coaches like Baxter,Edwards,Gustard,King and even now Borthwick but I wouldn't want any as head coach because none have been head coaches at international level.

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Post by TJ Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:15 am

One key issue for all the teams is getting state school kids into rugby. Scotland have made some attempts down this road but for the future its essential. At the moment we are selecting almost entirely from fee paying schools

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Post by JuddMara Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:15 am

The way forward for me is totally impossibe, given the strength, money amd stubbornness involved within the french and english games in the current league format.

However I feel that if done as follows, money within the european game would only increase and the strength and skill would follow suit.

INTERNATIONAL FORMAT[b][b][/b][/b]

2 tier NH tournament

To start it would be IRE ENG WALES FRANCE in upper tier and ITALY SCOT GEORG and ROMANIA in the lower

Promotion and relegation, possibly on a 2 year basis so development can occur if need be.
The reason SH are so well versed in high impact and high profile games is because they play 6 of them back to back in one single tournament every year.
Playing Sco and Italy unfortunately is becoming the whipping boys of the 6N and playing them is not developing them or the 'better' 4 teams.
This way the other european teams will grow and get the opertunity to take on the bigger teams every year in a tournament format, instead of a dead rubber friendly.
Play each other twice in the same format as The RC

Tournament needs to be moved to summer in line (maybe before, maybe just after) the Rugby championship. This removes the idiotic notion of league matches being played while players are on international duty. and now you have a club season and an international season, instead of sprinkling in international games sporadically.

Autumn internationals move to after the 4N competition (in place of summer tour, and before people cry need for developemnt, when was the plast time NZ, SA or AUS went on a developement tour of Canada?)

This way also, when the WC comes around every 4 years, you have a Semi competative tournament which acts as your warm up games, instead of these stupid warm up matches where "I'll field my strong team this week, you field yours next week, we each beat each other, no harm done" mentality and you actually warm up instead of just giving everyone a run out.

Right now on the the domestic game

DOMESTIC GAME

2 tier 12-15 franchise league of european teams

Promotion and relegation and it would involve current clubs to form together into a franchise based system. Imagine the TV coverage WORLDWIDE of a game like Paris Vs London for the title of best franchise in Europe?

Look at the relegation battle in the English Premier League at the moment, that pulls in probably close to the same amount of money and excitement as the top of the table, imagine the same in rugby.....

Same format as super 15, round robin with play offs would mean 16 games at most vs 26 with he current top 14 and then 6-10 games in the european cups.
At the end of the tournament then players will either play out the international season or return to the lower league format (ie Air NZ cup equivalent or current club format as is).
Now you have a situation where lower level players can go and see their teams play on a saturday, and then they can still play high level rugby come the time.

Participation and hopefully attendance would be up and the exposure to less but higher profile games would only fuel increase in skill and ability

So that's my solution, but it will never happen so I can keep dreaming.

Why not adopt SH format? it isnt exactly failing for them is it

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