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 that he is actively trying to improve England’s attack. The inability to score has to do with quite a few factors.
- The lack of penalties that Wales conceded was an enormous factor. They conceded an almost unbelievable 2 penalties. This showed incredible discipline from the men in red.
- Re-positioning quickly and inaccuracy at the breakdown.
- The conditions were not ideal, but the same for both sides.
- A six-day turnaround showed in the last 15 minutes.
There are now two weeks to go to Scotland and Eddie will have England working hard on their work ons. Their aerial game and attack were very good, our counter into space from poor Welsh kicks was good. Defence, at times, was good, but not good enough.
I’m going to highlight three areas that Jones will look to focus on before the much-awaited match with Scotland.
Area 1: England’s “Brumby Mode” and Support Philosophy
Eddie Jones has shown his hand for playing in the wet and the result excites me. Twickenham was miserable on Saturday and Scotland in winter can easily be the same. Logically in these conditions, England not only kicked, but shortened the passes, and played smart. As I’ve stated before, Jones has based the philosophies of his England attack on the Rod MacQueen’s Brumbies. Not until Wales, did I realise how much so.
The Brumbies operated a grid system. A channel-based system where the field was split into 8 channels. And on the direction of the tactical decision makers the players would be directed to a channel with speed and intensity. They would attack en masse over multiple phases, targeting the same channel, and taking defenders out of the game. The physicality of these runs meant the attack could recycle the ball quickly and go again within the channel. It’s simple and efficient and allows the attack to be on the move before the defence is ready. This was relentless and defences would draw in to stop conceding gainline.
Using rapid re-positioning and their skill sets, they’d then exploit the space out wide.
Principles of Brumby Mode:
- Operate within a 10 metre channel. Overwhelm the 3 guards of the Pillar Defence. The 1st guard protects the inside option. The 2nd guard is responsible for the running 9. And the 3rd is responsible for the running 10.
- Players must start flat and run on to the ball with intent, as to clear out and re-attack the guards with speed.
- Decisions in interplays must be made as flat as possible.
- Alternate between blind and open of the ruck dependent on guard integrity.
These, are the Wallaby examples.
Using the MacQueen Brumbies pattern, they’ve picked a 10-metre channel to operate within. They are targeting the 3 guards and using the clear out to obstruct or put them on the floor. They’re then attacking the channel against unprepared guards to get gainline advantage. All from using superior numbers, speed and the ever-thinning defensive line. Look how many Wallabies are crowded around the attacking channel.
England Brumby Mode
This is strikingly similar to what we saw from that incredible Wallaby side.
First, we see a “prong” go in off Care. They cut an inside line to drag players from the open, and ball is recycled quickly.
Care lures the 1st guard to tackle and passes to Ford, who takes the ball flat and committing the original 2nd guard passes inside to May who is meant to exploit space created from Care’s track. However May’s line is wrong, as such, he has to jump over this player and is tackled by players from the blind, who then move to open.
Because of this, the guard integrity on the blind is compromised. Launchbury exploits this with a pick and go, makes metres, and Simmonds comes in to pick and go on an even more compromised guard before the ruck is formed.
It is very similar to the Wallabies version. The main difference being targeting individual defenders. However, they didn’t leave their 10-metre channel. They ran onto the ball hard, recycled quickly and went again. Played flat so Ford’s interplay was more effective and switched between open and blind dependent on guard integrity. The principles are near identical. Remember, England play to go through teams. This mode is ideal for wet weather play, suits England’s strengths, and played at breakneck pace. Eventually overwhelming teams.
Eddie Jones coaching
Jones will coach on this. He’ll encourage cleaners to take players out of the game in their cleanouts, and therefore not only thin the line more, but influence “moving blind to open/open to blind” guard defenders as to exploit the weak side. He will work on decision making and in particular on when to pick and go and instruct players when to alternate between blind and open dependent on the guard.
As well as breakdown support play… Cleaners and pick and go-ers in this sequence were usually cleaners from the previous ruck. Meaning they are on their feet, quickly, meaning numbers can be used elsewhere in case of turnover and space creation.
Area 2: Breakdown Accuracy
This ties in well with the above. But, England’s attacks were stymied multiple times by players either going off their feet or players getting isolated. England are improving, there is no doubt about that. But I expect greater urgency to be placed on supporting players and players from the previous ruck being in a position to assist this. Physicality will be raised due to the Scottish jackalling threats, which will try to ruin England’s chances. England cannot squander possession against the Scots when their attack is predominantly based upon it.
Area 3: Defence
Wales and their impulse to offload caused England issues, especially with Anscombe at 10. Thankfully, the “coming through” runners were handled with constricted defence, but Wales made metres here. England will be working on their chop tackling and the choke tackle in particular. Both of these prevent offloads in the tackle, and against an enterprising team like Scotland, will be key to preventing chances out wide. Their front up defence was good, especially on the Welsh “3” pods. But Eddie will want more.
If you haven’t seen the in-depth analysis of Eddie Jones’ attacking philosophies check the series out here.
Author: Conor Wilson
Recently retired from the Military, Skydiving and rare Steak Enthusiast and Player of the beautiful game of Rugby.
Joe Schmidt, Will Greenwood and Rod MacQueen are my heroes, and my proudest moment was putting Jason Robinson in for a try at a promotional Rugby day. It was truly beautiful.