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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 25 Jan 2021, 10:55 am

Style of play, and as an England fan I'm primarily looking at them, just won't go away for a talking point to me. I know there are a load of people who will be fed up of me (full stop) banging on about it but as much as I say that different styles give us great matches and that there's more than 1 way to skin a cat I was left slightly disappointed in the approach from England last year. How much of my frustration is down to the specific tactics and how much the execution though: probably 30:70.

We have a set of forwards now who are the most physical bunch of guys we've had while I have consistently watched rugby with England. I got into the sport at about 2005, just for the glory years to commence. I'm loving the approach they have whether it be defence or attack. We've always had guys of perhaps limited talent on the international scene who would put their bodies on the line but there seems to be a real increase of physicality since Jones came into the setup. He took guys who were performing well and turned it up a notch. At the same time the talent in that pack at ball playing is at an all time high for us. You have a set of forwards who as much as they enjoy bending the opposition in 2 come scrum time they are happy to play first receiver. Vunipola, Sinckler, Launchbury Curry and more produce outstanding bits of vision and skill at times and its a joy to watch. Behind them we have a string of players who are, or should be, capable of ripping teams to shreds. Indeed we've seen the backline click and run amok plenty of times under Jones and Lancaster for that matter. It all seems to have ground to a halt these last 8 or so games though.

Whenever pressed Jones has resorted to his favourite line that defences at international level are much better and that its simply smart rugby and you're more likely to lose the ball than create anything after 6 phases. I understand the overall point and as a base set of tactics its fine, and has been successful in winning matches. I did find myself bored to tears at times though in 2020 because the kicking (and chase potentially) wasn't good enough. Its a thought that Brian Moore has made quite often, you can't criticise the tactic as its been very successful but you can perhaps criticise the execution. I would hate to see England resort to the opposite ie run the ball all the time as it makes us equally obvious and easy to counter unless someone's having a cracking game as we've seen from guys like Tuilagi in the past. Surely though there are times when the decision makers on the pitch have to notice that something isn't working and have a quick change of tactics to see. It seems that we play at one speed too frequently as we know that theres one more ruck until the kick. I'm looking forward to the new voice of Ed Robinson in the fold; its unlikely its going to be a very loud voice but he's there as Jones likes what he's seen and he's a guy who likes to look at all avenues of attack, may just help mix things up a little? Also want to say how nice it is seeing him really go well as a coach after such an early retirement due to concussion. Remember reading that he can't even join his family on traditional Christmas runs as he still suffers from symptoms. Hope it all goes well.

Its all a balance isn't it, I'm sure we've all seen Du Toits quotes saying he knew SA were going to win the WC final when England looked to attack from near their own line but surely the point of guys like Youngs, Farrell, Ford and Slade is to help know when to do it. The talent is there and we saw from Mays excellent try vs Ireland that they will do it when they know its absolutely on, just wish there were some more plans after phase 5.

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Post by NeilyBroon Mon 25 Jan 2021, 11:20 am

As a Scotland fan nothing rings truer than this right now. Toonie has gone completely to the other extreme from where we were and is selecting based purely on defence.

The main difference is it hasn't been that successful for us, I almost think as a nation punching above its weight we're better off with the unpredictability. Also we really don't have the players for that type of game. To be fair it was like this 10 years ago and seems to go in cycles. I expect there will be a further focus from a refereeing perspective on rucking rules in the near future. They have to get rid of this ridiculous queue that forms behind for the scrum half to kick and declare the ball out sooner to hurry teams up.
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Post by BigTrevsbigmac Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:23 pm

I think box kicks should only be allowed in the 22 and I agree Nelly refs will be more strict on the rucking rules in order to speed up the game.
As Austin Healey recently suggested, as soon as you can see the ball you should be given strictly 5 seconds to get rid.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:33 pm

Reffing kids' games, I always give a countdown - "Maul formed, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - Use it!" and if it's not played immediately, it's a scrum to the other side. I don't see why professional refs couldn't do the same, other than that it sounds a bit schoolteacherish.

England's style of play will evolve, though I suspect it will be very gradual until we're out of COVID restrictions. Eddie's quite good developing new tactics, but equally at keeping his powder dry until he needs to use it - which is sometimes after we'd like him to. He also plays a long game and is quite prepared to lose a few games along the way if the ultimate result is being ready for the RWC.
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Post by lostinwales Mon 25 Jan 2021, 1:09 pm

BigTrevsbigmac wrote:I think box kicks should only be allowed in the 22 and I agree Nelly refs will be more strict on the rucking rules in order to speed up the game.
As Austin Healey recently suggested, as soon as you can see the ball you should be given strictly 5 seconds to get rid.

Think about what is going to happen if you dump box kicks? The ball will go out to the 10, 15 or whoever who will then kick long. Probably more ping pong.

I don't know what we need to do the change the balance of play, but just outlawing one component ends up being counterproductive more often than not.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 25 Jan 2021, 1:43 pm

I like that Austin Healey suggestion. A soon as the ball is visible, 5 seconds to use it. It would certainly stop the times when a scrum half is standing at the breakdown waiting for perfect ball flapping his arms like a bird and eventually losing possession (the losing the ball might only be for the teams I support!). .

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 26 Jan 2021, 8:07 am

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/55805320

Think Jones is just taunting me.

There does seem to be a lot of slowing the game down at rucks. Was watching the 1st lions game in 97 and the game in general seems much slower now in terms of setting up scrums and lineouts. That said the reffing is comedy for turning a blind eye to knock ons and no wonder people harl back to that era for completed scrums: they just ignore props binds handsnon the floor etc. I only got into rugby really about 05 (england glory years of course) were the laws that kick different then or was it case of everyone was Nigel Owens, ignoring things for the good of the game?

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Post by Gooseberry Tue 26 Jan 2021, 8:55 am

Was about to link that same interview. Bit more measured than his previous grumpy response. They are playing to win, they want to do it better.

Pretty clear he's not happy with what the players executed in the Autumn, in spite of having won every game, and believes the tactics they are using are a big part of what's carried them. But also isn't wedded to that and isnt utterly inflexible. Its worth remembering they've played in pretty rank conditions against opponents who weren't exactly setting out to pay wide open themselves either. It'll probably be the same this winter unless, brace yourselves internet ragers.


Probably the most interesting part for me is his thoughts on the squad for the world cup, looking for an average age of 28 and 40 caps. Shows he's not wedded to the old boys and you'd expect casualties from the established group as prior to the last one. He has managed to constantly work through new players and cap a lot without ever feeling like he's purging the team or having had the dubious luxury of a summer development tour last summer. The current squad has a large number of players under 10 caps given its size.

Inclusion of Randall to me looks like a longer term pick after time to reflect and reading this with thoughts ahead to a time where they will be playing in less attritional games or when the interpretations/laws shift with the wind again. Not sure whether that means he will get capped now or later, we saw similar with Umaga who he oozed over then didnt pick. For now. Again just because he has a firm belief in the territory game for now and sticking with players to deliver that doesn't mean he's not also thinking about building options to play the more traditional Jones heads up Aussie style.

The lack of obvious options at 12 and 10 from the established group doesn't show any sign hes looking to change that midfield, and his comments make it clear he's not asking for significant change to what they are doing. Just asking them to do it better and trusting they are capable. Less certain at 9 but I'm still expecting Youngs to start.

Also wonder what that means for Marler, given he's already retired once. Not to criticise him for taking the break by any means but will Jones continue to keep going back to him when everyones fit and if the youngsters do well this winter? Not sure how much he'd want to keep investing in an older player who may or may not want to stick around. Might also tip him out of contention for the Lions mind, which would make him pretty valuable for the summer tour unless Jones goes full "Saxons". And having had the break and relatively easy summer he could be in a lot better shape than Vunipola, who looked old at 22, in the real build up to world cup.


Think the focus the winter will be largely on France. They really have been a step above the rest of Europe and had the better of England last winter. That seemed to come, as with the tighter than it should've been ANC final, from England sleepwalking a good portion of the game. Seem to remember saying at the start pf this autumns series that the progression I wanted to see was in England not doing that and just executing what they were doing better. Not much has changed, same old problems. For me the Autumn was a failure for moving England on, but at least they haven't gone backwards and Jones doesn't appear to be content with what they produced.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Tue 26 Jan 2021, 8:59 am

I stopped playing in 2001, 4 years before you started 7.5, the game was very different then so I have never had to play the game as they do now. My abiding recollection though is that as I was usually the biggest guy on the pitch I was used rugby league style to truck it up for what to me seemed like 50% of our possession. Needless to say, I am suffering for all that body contact now. The game up until around 2015 was better and more open but it has gradually tightened up, even the most flowing sides like France putting defence first.

I would agree that they should outlaw the shopping trolley queue forming behind each ruck, the ref should call it when he /she believes that the "true" ruck has set and now further players be allowed to join it to form the queue although he would have to use his discretion if more players joined it if it started moving. Something needs to be done to stop the box kick becoming so predicable and then allowing the defence to form a blocking wall in front of where the kick is landing. If players could actually challenge for the ball more often the box kick would possibly add a lot more than it does now.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 26 Jan 2021, 9:03 am

Re the midfield Gooseberry I think there's some indications he still wants that stronger ball carrier. Lawrence did well in what he had to do and it'll be interesting to see whether Odogwu is seen more as winger or centre, his form seems to have come from 13 more than 14. I think we could see some change in that area shunting Farrell to 10.

I am pleased that Jones in public has at least hinted the execution needs to be better, whether that comes with form, change of personnel or mixing it up more.

On the rugby podcast jones says he sees Odogwu as a 13 who can fill in on the wing.


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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Tue 26 Jan 2021, 9:46 am

Simmonds, speaking to the Rugby Journal, revealed why he continues to be left out.

He (Eddie) said, at the moment I don’t fit into his squad and how he sees me, and how I play for Exeter, doesn’t fit into his team.

“And, that is quite tough to take, but at least we get to play for Exeter Chiefs.”
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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 26 Jan 2021, 9:48 am

That's just stupid if it's the actual reason as players cant help their teams tactics.

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Post by BamBam Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:32 am

Disappointing for Simmonds, but it fits with Eddie's history. He's so often ignored Premiership form when picking his squad, he's effectively sticking to that and saying Simmonds great form with Exeter doesn't* translate to international level

I disagree, but its not something new


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Post by lostinwales Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:41 am

It is a team game, and the style the team plays is defined by Eddie. In an alternate universe there is an England team where Simmonds is the star player. Who can tell if that team or the current one is better.

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Post by Poorfour Tue 26 Jan 2021, 1:03 pm

lostinwales wrote:It is a team game, and the style the team plays is defined by Eddie. In an alternate universe there is an England team where Simmonds is the star player. Who can tell if that team or the current one is better.

Quite. Club form is a useful guide for which players to consider, but it's no guarantee that they will fit into a particular style of play. Eddie has a view of how international matches are won and has a style of play for the team that delivers that view. He doesn't see Simmonds as having the characteristics that are needed in that style of play. If tactics and style of play change - which they will over the RWC cycle - Simmonds might be the best fit to what's needed for the new style.

England aren't in the position where they have to pick their best players and build a style of play around them. There's a decent roster of players who are at international level, and that allows for choosing a style of play to win matches and then picking the players who can best deliver on it. Some good players lose out - but that was always the case.
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Post by Mr Bounce Tue 26 Jan 2021, 6:01 pm

Eddie does seem to be very stubborn over some of his selections though. 8 is Billy. Or one of the other flanker. No other specialist 8. Ever. The starting 9 is Youngs. Nobody else unless it's an easy game. And 10 is Farrell or Ford.

At least the appearance of Malins is starting to sway him at 15. Randall for Youngs maybe?

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Post by Yoda Tue 26 Jan 2021, 7:22 pm

As with most sports a balance is needed. Eddie has the choice that many countries simply don't have. If you only have one type of player then you have to play a system that suits. He could go down the Japan route and pick the fastest most exciting players he has at his disposal. As crazy and fun that would be I'm not sure it would win tournaments. He could go down the South Africa route and bludgeon his way through, which we know is effective yet not so appealing on the eye. I think Eddie wants the balance that the double winning all blacks mastered. Does he have the players for that? His biggest problem will be player burnout as he cant protect the players as much as other nations.

Hopefully we can see more attacking intent, proper officiating of laws wouldn't go a miss to enable that. Personally I would love to see any player off their feet getting yellows quicker and once 'use it' has been called 5 secs is actually 5 secs not 10 or reset if they throw another forward in. And the crowning glory would be the tackler or tacklers actually releasing and get out of the way before any jackel is allowed (it is the law after all).

P. S. Any hollering whooping, hair rubbing, mock applause or any t**tish behaviour instant penalty and yellow card, fed up with it. Would love the TV display the reason for yellow card to simply read sin bin: being a Wendy baller tit

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:05 pm

So what do you think Joe Simmonds doesn't do, or doesn't do well enough that Eddie Jones would prefer he improve?

I hope Simmonds gets upset, decides to leave Exeter and realises Northampton is a great landing spot....

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Post by Mr Bounce Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:22 pm

doctor_grey wrote:So what do you think Joe Simmonds doesn't do, or doesn't do well enough that Eddie Jones would prefer he improve?

I hope Simmonds gets upset, decides to leave Exeter and realises Northampton is a great landing spot....  

Eddie won't drop Farrell, because he's a good leader for the team and he won't drop Ford because of him knowing Farrell inside out and being a pretty good fly half himself. What Simmonds needs to do is be a LOT better than both of them. Despite nearly every rugby pundit being on Joe's side, Eddie obviously doesn't see it that way. The only way Joe gets in is by double-injury, and even then Eddie would probably start Umaga over him because he likes what he sees. The same sort of thing (but for different reasons) happened in the build up to the RWC in 2019. Everyone wanted Cipriani in the squad for his X factor. He was of course, left at home.

There is SO much strength in depth but it's so difficult for youngsters and "outsiders" to get capped as the standard is so high.

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Post by doctor_grey Wed 27 Jan 2021, 12:49 pm

Thanks mate; good points.  I am wondering also if the style Eddie played post-RWC is due to the Ford-Farrell axis not enabling strong attacking play.  Yes, we know about the concerns about the breakdown:  Get a turnover/penalty, kick to the opposition half and try to play from there.  But could the lack of a real attacking midfield be driving the strategy as well?  Eddie is not going to come out and say we have to kick because our midfield can't really attack consistently and we rely on individual brilliance of our wingers.

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Post by lostinwales Wed 27 Jan 2021, 2:53 pm

doctor_grey wrote:Thanks mate; good points.  I am wondering also if the style Eddie played post-RWC is due to the Ford-Farrell axis not enabling strong attacking play.  Yes, we know about the concerns about the breakdown:  Get a turnover/penalty, kick to the opposition half and try to play from there.  But could the lack of a real attacking midfield be driving the strategy as well?  Eddie is not going to come out and say we have to kick because our midfield can't really attack consistently and we rely on individual brilliance of our wingers.

We have done the relentless attack thing very successfully with a similar team.

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Post by doctor_grey Wed 27 Jan 2021, 8:15 pm

lostinwales wrote:
doctor_grey wrote:Thanks mate; good points.  I am wondering also if the style Eddie played post-RWC is due to the Ford-Farrell axis not enabling strong attacking play.  Yes, we know about the concerns about the breakdown:  Get a turnover/penalty, kick to the opposition half and try to play from there.  But could the lack of a real attacking midfield be driving the strategy as well?  Eddie is not going to come out and say we have to kick because our midfield can't really attack consistently and we rely on individual brilliance of our wingers.

We have done the relentless attack thing very successfully with a similar team.
Agree, but I haven't seen it in a few years. So not sure Eddie still thinks they can do it or not. And for some reason he avoids these boards to answer these questions (I think he is ducking us).

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Post by nlpnlp Sat 30 Jan 2021, 11:33 pm

I think EJ likes to be seen as the Enfant Terrible and thumbing his nose at the 'experts'.  It is an easy option to pick Underhill and Curry at 6 and 7 even though they are not a balance pair.  Also picking Ford and Farrel at 10 and 12.  England have been consistently poor since the World Cup semi final, despite winning against some poor Northern Hemisphere sides.  We were desparate against a 2nd/3rd choice French team and but for a couple of very favourable refereeing decisions would have lost.

I agree with 7&1/2's original point - it isn't the tactics but the execution of them  If you are going to do box kick after box kick, you need a good kick chase and we haven;t done that.  Our kick game achieved little - both Wales and Ireland kick chase infintely better than we do.  Our defence has been top notch, but you need more than that to win a world cup.  Winning the 6 Nations is great, but we need to progress or game if we are to beat the SOuthern hemisphere  teams when it matters.

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