Before we begin, I must ask you to suspend reality for a few minutes and forget what happened in the second half of England v Scotland. We will talk about Scotland’s comeback separately, but this article is all about England and their unbelievable start to this match.
England’s attack is doing things no other teams would dare try. In over half the tests since the beginning of last year, they score within the first 5 minutes. Below you will discover which tactics make this crazy stat possible, and which old values England have cast aside under Eddie Jones.
The Opening Tries | England v Scotland
In a previous post, I mentioned how England are using Rugby League moves to bewilder Union defences. Farrell Loves throwing these back-door passes, and the one below is a beauty.
Tuilagi really makes this work by running a decoy line in the direction of the yellow arrow. This confuses and compresses the Scottish defence.
Jack Nowell steps the cover defence to score. This isn’t a groundbreaking move, it’s just executed with perfect precision and speed.
England would then follow this up with a perfectly executed second try. The forwards set up a lineout like they’re about to use a jumper at the back, but the ball goes to the front. They then quickly set up and drive Tom Curry across the line. Scotland were taken by surprise.
From above, the move becomes even clearer.
This is a smart play but again, not groundbreaking. England are simply in flow state, executing each play as it comes. England also executed a sublime move in the opening stages against Ireland, which dwarfs these moves in its complexity. You can find out about that in the article below.
This is all part of a larger mindset-shift from Eddie Jones, and this next tactic makes that shift incredibly clear.
How England Have Increased Tempo | England v Scotland
England now generally play faster, smarter and thrive in risky situations. The type of play we are about to examine is not part of the standard England rugby DNA. It would be more at home in a Super Rugby fixture than a Twickenham test.
Below Daly grabs the ball in touch, and spots an immediate opportunity for a quick throw.
England don’t score from this, but Scotland had clearly clocked-off here and were unprepared for a quick throw. It showcases the tempo England were bringing.
The rise in tempo would be most evident during Jonny May’s try. Youngs looks up and takes a quick tap. This is something we would usually expect from Australia or New Zealand, but not England.
England then score with a pass that really highlights this new England way.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to England’s attack. When England are in their flow state, this next tactic is unstoppable.
The Art of Flat Attacking Lines | England v Scotland
Before we get to the tactic in question, it’s important to put it into context. It starts with a rampaging run from England’s reserve prop Ellis Genge, who puts Sinckler through a hole. Two props combining like this is pretty spectacular to watch.
With front-foot ball, England can launch another Rugby League tactic by throwing the ball right across the face of the opposition defenders. Below Launchbury catches a very flat ball from Youngs.
From here, there’s not much Scotland could have done. England’s flat pass attacking line hasn’t given them any time to react to the situation. Launchbury scores.
Now we have taken a look at the first half, it’s time to take a look at how on earth Scotland came back to take a draw and keep the Calcutta Cup. Click here to find out.
Will England be able to fix their second-half lapses in time for the World Cup? Let us know your thoughts.
Author: The 1014 Rugby and Henry Stokes