“So, For Us, It’s Been Enormously Beneficial”

Eddie Jones remarks in his post-match interview, after their third consecutive defeat, have drawn criticism from some quarters. However, I feel like there is virtue in what he says.

Eddie Jones established a strong starting Fifteen in his first Six Nations. There are still a few marginal calls. His main problem is the versatility of Maro Itoje. Itoje has served a different role in each Six Nations since the World Cup. Once they decide which role they want him to fill, a lot of England’s choices become easier.

In 2017, Jones started to conduct experiments with the team. Undoubtedly the most successful of which was with Elliot Daly, who took the 11 jersey for his own. He was also able to usher in newer talents like Kyle Sinckler, Ben Te’o and Jamie George, all of whom became Lions.

This Six Nations, Jones developed his squad further. A lot of players were given a chance in positions they don’t usually play, or instead of their more experienced rivals.

By DIALLO 25 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

“Other Guys Are Maybe Going to Struggle to Participate in the Future”

A lot has been made of this comment but Jones is just accepting where in the World Cup Cycle we are. He has to make sure he is giving time to those who need it most. Who will struggle to feature? The data gives us some potential answers.

Ben Te’o

England’s Points Difference with Farrell at 12 is +156 (which is higher than England’s total Points Difference across the Six Nations since the World Cup), with Te’o it is -18. A large amount of this comes down to Farrell’s underrated defensive attributes. For instance, Te’o was nowhere to be seen when Bundee Aki broke through England’s line for Ireland’s second Try.

Anthony Watson

Watson showed some promise at Full Back for the Lions. Unfortunately, Johnny Sexton took only 3 minutes to punt the ball straight at Watson and create a Try, against Ireland. He also picked up a costly Yellow against France.

Kyle Sinckler

Sinckler has been getting more and more game time at Tight Head. Jones gave Sinckler his first start against Ireland. However, he was only able to get less than a Metre per Run. Sinckler is a Prop who is famed for his ball carrying. This is not good enough.

Mako Vunipola

In this game, Vunipola managed to overtake Joe Marler’s Minutes in the Six Nations. Unfortunately, England’s Points Difference with Marler on the pitch is +72, whilst with Vunipola it is only +42. This is a massive difference at this level.

I don’t believe Jones has been given enough credit for the risks he took against Ireland. England started to turn the game round when more experienced heads like; Ford, Brown, Care, Cole, and Marler entered the fray. This is probably not the lesson he wanted to learn, but it is still a valuable one nonetheless. In this tournament, he gave his players a chance to fail. They now have a chance to learn and grow from it.


Author: Stewart Marshall

I played Rugby for years until discovering my agility and pace was better suited to Basketball. I became a qualified coach by the time I was 16. Unfortunately, an injury brought my sporting pursuits to an abrupt end.

Fortunately, whilst I was injured I found Theatre and I’ve never looked back. I now run a small Theatre company which has worked throughout Scotland and England.


  1. Thanks Stewart good article. Am hoping you are right and Eddie is able to refine the squad through this and we will see the benefit through the next 18months. Nice to see some clearer thoughts other than the mainstream boom or bust media coverage.

    • I feel a lot of the hysteria in the English Media just comes from underestimating the other teams in the competition. France are far from their best, but they’re still tough to beat. Scotland and there and thereabouts, especially at Murrayfield. Whilst Ireland are the in-form team in the world. There’s no shame in losing to teams like this, whilst moving players about, and giving your bench players a chance.

  2. Good points. I feel at this point all the players mentioned will go and most likely be in the 23 match day squad. Sincklers carrying stats i feel are a nothing number. Postive meters per carry is all that really counts. Number of carrys is more important along with number of passes. I would think number of players involved those tackles is also something people would look at.

    • Yeah, I agree, Tom. I think some players had a chance to force their way into the First 15 or change their position with the First 15 this year, but Jones’s almost certainly working with players who will be on the plan to Japan.

  3. I’m almost sure Farrells tackle completion rate was poorer than Te’o. I’m not sure where he’s got this reputation as a great defender. He shoots a lot but missed as much as hits his man.

    He’s a better player than Te’o though at 12. I’d play Te’o at 13 or not at all.

    • That’s true, but Te’o also attempted fewer, so there’s a more to it than just Missed Tackles. Also, I believe there’s an issue with the way Missed Tackles are recorded. If two men tackle one attacker, one of the Tacklers will record a Missed Tackle. This tends to happen a lot with the way Ford and Farrell cover their areas.

      Actually, I think Jones agrees with you. Te’o recorded a lot of minutes at 13 before he was given a chance at 12.

  4. Stewart I would agree with everything except for the props, Sinkler is dynamic but you can only be dynamic at prop if the team give you space and your opposite loosehead isn’t troubling you too much. Unless there is another tight head like him in England he’ll be there. As for Marler and Mako, Mako is a better srummager and not as prone to brain farts as Marler. These are highly specialized positions and there no.1 priority is set piece and ruck clearing, anything else is a bonus. Marler can’t be singled out for the points scored when he is on.
    Other than that very interesting.


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