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.

Farrell throws a back-door pass while Tuilagi makes a brilliant decoy run
Farrell throws a back-door pass while Tuilagi makes a brilliant decoy run

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.

Nowell opens the scoring with another sub-five minute try
Nowell opens the scoring with another sub-five minute try

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.

England set up a decoy jumper then rush into a planned maul
England set up a decoy jumper then rush into a planned maul

From above, the move becomes even clearer.

England score their second try
England score their second try

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.

How England Dismantled Ireland

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.

Daly goes for the risky quick throw rather than waiting it out
Daly goes for the risky quick throw rather than waiting it out

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.

Youngs surprises Scotland with a quick tap
Youngs surprises Scotland with a quick tap

England then score with a pass that really highlights this new England way.

This pass is very un-England like

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.

Sinckler goes through a gap to put England on the front foot
Sinckler goes through a gap to put England on the front foot

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.

A very flat line of attack
A very flat line of attack

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.

Launchbury canters over for a try
Launchbury canters over for a try

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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Criminally bad blitz execution by the Scotland defensive line for the first feature pass by Farrell. Missed the entire attacking line.

    Patently illegal lineout throw for the second featured move though.

    The flat attacking line feature was also successful simply because the Scottish defence was a mess.

    England have talent in depth throughout that squad. However, their success throughout that first half was every bit as dependent upon bad play by the Scottish team, as it was skill by the England lads.

  2. This was a great analysis. I am glad I found this website.

    I loved the tempo that England play with, and a couple years back I always asked myself why professional teams would never tap and go, or do quick line out throws, so I figured it’s just what the pros did. They rested a bit, and took field position over something not so promising like a tap and go or quick line out, but as seen and explained above, when taken at the right time and executed perfectly it can work.

    The flat attack lines were so fascinating and brilliant to watch. I loved how they worked around the breakdown and just went, again with the tempo mentioned, it was so nice to watch the 9 throw that flat pass and watch them poke through the holes.

    Great analysis, will be back for more. Also I can understand this far better than I understand squidge rugby on youtube, so thanks.

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