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Scotland’s patterns and tactics part 1: Tenets

Scotland were my performers of the Autumn. No doubt about it. They have built on the great work of Vern Cotter and continued where he left off. Gregor Townsend has come in and brought continuity, adventure, heart, fitness and most...
Scotland v England. What will Eddie Jones be coaching?

Scotland v England: What will Eddie Jones be coaching?

Eddie Jones will be happy with aspects of England's performance against Wales, and regardless of public persona, furious with others. To not score any points in 60 minutes of a game will particularly irk him, especially due to the fact...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 6: Kicking Strategy

Wales implementation of their attacking kicking strategy has been done very, very well. This has been a part of their game for long before the World Cup. Warrenball dictates that the kicks from the back 3 remain in field, so...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 5: On the break

This article shows Wales' keenness on moving the ball wide. It also illustrates that the players need change only one thing in order for it to become fully effective. In the following example, we know the call that was made...
Scatter graph from Expected Wins Contributed analysis

Expected Wins Contributed (xWC). The holy grail of statistical analysis?

The holy grail of statistical analysis in any sport is to have one metric that fits all. Not only does it fit all, but it can accurately evaluate a player’s quality. Existing examples of this from other sports include “Wins...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 4: The 3-3-Tip on

The 3-3-Tip On is the same principle as the previous pattern. However, the lack of screen differentiates it. The pattern is very similar if not identical to the Scottish Tip-on pattern. Here we see exactly the same set up as...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 3: The 1-3-3-1

In this, the third article on Wales we take a look at their use of the 1-3-3-1 system via some examples. The Welsh have a long openside which they can use in this example. They have lined up a 3...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 2: The Tenets

This article takes a look at the new Welsh tenets. I say new, as they appear to be just that after years in the "Warrenball" wilderness. New Wales attacking tenets: Players must offload more. Players must quickly use the width...

Wales’ patterns and tactics part 1: Introduction

First and foremost, you'll have to forgive me, as this is the most polarising series I've ever written. Mainly, because of frustration. There's a popular theory about the definition of insanity by Einstein. Even though it was debunked that it...

Wales v Scotland Reviewed: The Scarlets Effect

Ladies and Gentlemen, I did not expect this. Wales were brilliant today. Fast, full of endeavour, their handling was crisp, their timing of their runs on point, their lines good and their alignment; Oh, their alignment was something else....

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 7: Altering Patterns

As we know from the prior articles Ireland essentially have two attack patterns (or families); namely the 1-3-3-1 Looper and the Twos. But this does not mean that Ireland sticks to them rigidly. They have variations, they have cases...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 6: Key players

Now, remember, Ireland also have their kicking game. Which is arguably the most honed and accurate in the World. For this, you need Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton. But while both players are clearly the choices to implement Ireland's kicking...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 5: Success factors

There are certain things that are required for Ireland's patterns to be fully effective, I like to refer to them as their success factors. As can be seen from the prior articles in this series Ireland's patterns are vulnerable. Most...

The Eddie Jones England Attack part 5: Summary and Kicking Strategies

In this final instalment of the series, I am going to run through an overview of England's box kicking strategies. If you haven't been through the first four articles they can be found here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 4: Twos

As you can probably guess the 1-3-3-1 pattern is not exactly free-flowing. It is highly regimented and geared for multiple phases across the park. When Ireland want to cut loose they employ another pattern that combines with the 3...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 3: Decoy & Splitter

There are many variations to Ireland's tactic of playing to their 3-3-1 pattern. Here is another example of the play from a set piece, except it ends with a decoy move this time, rather than a Looper play. Note It should...

The Eddie Jones England Attack part 4: Fitness of the Forwards

One of the key elements that Jones has focused on is the fitness of his squad. In particular the pack. The fitness that Jones requires is entirely different to the fitness regime of the England squad in 2015. The fitness...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 2: 3-3-1 Looper

Ireland, have maintained their kicking game. To this day they still use their box kicking ability very effectively. They have since evolved their attacking game. This, is down to two patterns. In this article, we shall be focusing on the...

Ireland’s patterns and tactics part 1: Tenets

In this series of articles, I am going to run through Ireland's attacking patterns and tactics. They won't be as detailed as the English series that I have just completed; more like the 1st article in that series. Ireland's Tenets Possession and...

The Eddie Jones England Attack part 3: Importance of Multiple Options

As we learnt in the previous articles, the two prong pattern relies a lot on the 10-12 axis and fitness. However, it also relies on runners presenting multiple options at all times to the ball carrier. Mike Brown, running...

The Effect of Mass Imports on Talent Development

In this article we will look at the scale of foreign imports in rugby. We will also find out if there are lessons to be learned from the scale and nature of imports found in football. English football - too...

The Eddie Jones England Attack part 2: Importance of the 10-12 Axis

This is my second article in the England Attack series. If you haven't read the first, I fully recommend you do. If not, terms like "Two Prong" and "Switchback" may sound odd in this article without the context. Now, it's been...

The Eddie Jones England Attack part 1: Attack Patterns Explained

As of October 2017, nearly two years into Eddie Jones' reign at Twickenham, England do not have an attack coach. We have: a dedicated defence coach Paul Gustard, forwards coach Steve Borthwick, scrum coach Paul Hatley, a key man Dean...
Some of the dark arts of the breakdown.

Tactics: The Breakdown

Most people agree that getting an edge at the breakdown goes a long way towards winning rugby matches. This article will look at the latter stages of last year's Champions Cup. It will highlight some of the tactics used...

Rugby IQ Series: Part 3 (Leicester v Worcester 25/11/17)

Part 1 of the Rugby IQ Series looked at the different ways England and Australia slowed down the drift defence and preserved space on the outside. The article can be found here. Part 2 showed how Exeter and Harlequins took...

A scary tackle safety study, and what is Activate?

We all know you are asking for trouble by putting your head in the wrong place when making a tackle. But are you aware just how dangerous it can be? A Japanese study published in the November 2017 issue of the...

Rugby IQ Series: Part 2 (Exeter vs Harlequins 19/11/2017)

Part 2 of the Rugby IQ series will look at 4 tries from the Exeter vs Harlequins game on 19th November 2017. The game can be found here. If you haven’t seen Part 1 of the Rugby IQ series, you...

Tactics: Variations of the pod

What is a pod? A pod is a group of players who will attack the same space together. When it is used correctly, defenders don't know which attacker will get the ball. Support is available for offloads and to resource...

Rugby IQ Series: Part 1 (England v Australia 18/11/2017)

Rugby IQ Part 1 is the first in a series of analysis articles. The intention is to analyse a few scenarios from a game. So far so normal. However, most analysis articles are a detailed play by play that mostly...

Ireland v Springboks: A False Dawn for the Boks

To all Springbok fans out there, please note that I don't take enjoyment in this article. I am currently writing a series on the England attack before the Six Nations and as such have been a little sparse with other...
Test caps

How much does test match experience matter for success in tournaments?

We all take it for granted that test match experience is vital for teams to do well in competitions. The stats, however, paint a much more complicated picture. Every time a team is announced, we understand that an important calculation...
Martin Johnson one of the greats. It is no wonder that World Cup winners have great locks (not just good locks) when you look at these stats. PHOTO: Fotosport/Photosport

The Surprising Importance of Lineout Steals

The number of lineout steals is the poor cousin in rugby analytics. But it may prove to be the difference between winning and losing. I think there is a debate to be had over lineout steals. Judging from the stats...
Ross Cronje is an important cog for the Springboks 1331 system. @Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The Springbok 1-3-3-1: Is it enough for their Renaissance?

2016 was not a good year for the Springboks. In their attack, I couldn't work out what they were doing, what their game plan or structure was. Defence? Questionable by the ability for first phase tries to be scored against them....
All Blacks captain Kieran Read will be a main driver in their efficiency and fitness. © Copyright Image: www.photosport.nz

All Blacks Winning Factor: Fitness and Efficiency

Before the Springbok game, we thought the All Blacks were back to mortality. Or nearing it. We saw them struggle with the rush defence against the Lions. The Wallabies pushed them hard, very hard and you could argue they were...
Springbok Analysis

Springbok Analysis

2016 was a year to forget for the Springboks; however, it appears they have turned a corner in 2017. Here in The Shed, Gareth and I run the ruler over what they are trying to achieve, what they have achieved...
Aaron Smith scores against Argentina at RWC2015. This was the test I first noticed The Flood being used as an All Blacks attacking pattern. Photo: Matthew Impey

Development of All Blacks attacking pattern

The Rugby Championship of 2016 was a resounding success for the All Blacks. One thing I noted is that, while the All Blacks have always had their 2-4-2 structure in place, they have made significant strides in becoming far more...
Can the Lions stop All Black Beauden Barrett?

The 1014 Show: Can the Lions stop Beauden Barrett?

Is it possible to stop Beauden Barrett? In the space of one year, he has taken the All Blacks #10 jersey and redefined it. Barrett's try in Dublin last year is the stuff of legend, and it is possibly the...
What is Warrenball? Will Warren Gatland's Lions use it?

What is Warrenball? Can it beat the All Blacks?

What is Warrenball? It's a term often used and never explained in detail. The term Warrenball was coined and used carelessly during the Lions Tour of Australia in 2013, however, Warren Gatland himself has asked what it means exactly. It...
Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 19/11/2016 Ireland vs New Zealand New Zealandís Beauden Barrett on his way to scoring a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Analyse This – How do you defend a Beauden Barrett Try?

This is the first of our Analyse This articles, a series where we ask our readers to solve a particular problem. In this case, how would you defend this attack by Beauden Barrett and the All Blacks? This clip is...

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