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:ย 
  • 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…ย 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.


  1. Hi Conor, a very insightful article as always! I noticed England had 2 left to right backs moves from set pieces in the Wales half where there was a certain try if only the passing had been a bit crisper. Once Hadleigh Parkes knocked on in the tackle as the pass was being made, the other the pass went slightly behind the man and England knocked on. In both cases the defence had been held enough for Watson to have a clear run. I think England will hope for better against Scotland when they have left side set pieces, especially given what we did last year and what we did to Italy last week. I think rain or shine Tommy Seymour is about to be a very busy man as England will look for any chance to pin him back and force a lineout on that side in Scottish territory.

    • Thanks Dan. Glad you enjoyed it!

      That was quite frustrating in fairness! Unfortunately our first phase was not as slick as it could’ve been. I expect the kicking game to target that area given Scotland’s defence. Especially against France. The defence does spread, they didn’t win the collisions and there are holes that hard running prongs or brumby mode in particular will make very good use of. I expect 1st phase to attack these as well.

      I think Brumby mode is something that Jones is very, very keen to develop however as Jones has said he wants to win the WC and to do so means playing “unpopular rugby”. To me, this, combined with the set piece and tactical kicking, is how he plans to go at the All Blacks. They don’t like being targeted around the ruck area with quick ball, as this entirely negates their rush D and drags in defenders around the ruck. After that. Ford and his flat passing could create havoc.

      Its why i think Eddie has brought this mode out of retirement, one to give wet weather style of play, and secondly. To beat the All Blacks.

      • Great article again Conor. I’ve posted it up on DTRR.

        At the moment, if England is to beat the All Blacks it will be through defence, organisation, winning mentality and goal kicking rather than attack. The All Blacks are also very resilient; flooding the channels won’t be effective against them if it keeps on getting let down by decision making and skillset when opportunities are earned.


        • Cheers JD,

          There’s an article i’m writing at the moment that you’re not gonna like.

          “How to beat the All Blacks”. Not a title you’d like i think ๐Ÿ˜›

          But i think i’ve spotted some of the flaws that Jones was talking about in 2016. Flooding the channels is definitely one of them, And the same tactic has paid great dividends from examples taken in 2016, all the way to their last test last year. Jones is using this 6 Nations as a testing ground to develop the skills and patterns needed to hit these points, as in the first 2 games, has shown his hand in how he could exploit 3 of the 5 points where the AB’s have been vulnerable in attack. I don’t think its co-incidence. Of course England will have to be on their game in every facet possible when they play this Nov. But he’ll add these points on top of what you’ve said most certainly. Schmidt targeted one as well in Chicago. He actually altered his patterns to exploit it and they got at least 3 tries from that one weakness.

          I think the best way saying what i’ve seen recently is. You can’t beat the AB’s consistently and conclusively playing expansively. You have to target them first, then play quick and expansively to hurt them. Jones is developing means to do that.

  2. Interesting analysis. Sounds quite similar to Joe Schmidt approach with Ireland in terms of working in tight channels, focus on the breakdown and looking to overwhelm the defence.

  3. Will watch Scotland match with interest, Scotland were vulnerable through the ruck vs Samoa in the autumn so they seem ripe for this kind of attack. Hadn’t noticed backs like Jonny May involved though, I thought it was just the big boys rumbling(v impressively mind). Thanks again Conor these articles really help when watching a game to try and understand what a team is trying to do rather than just focus on watching the ball.

    • They were indeed Rob! They were also vulnerable against France in the guard. Which is why I think England will target here. Especially in the wet. Backs like May and Watson are often involved in these plays for the inside pass. Though their lines have to be more open to blind or blind to open and, the ruck needs to put down more fringe defenders. But very glad you’re enjoying them mate ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Haha. Thanks Paul, glad you liked it! But the day an international coach of the likes of Gregor Townsend starts taking my advice is the day Cats and Dogs sit down and draft a highly complex 700 page of legislature on Peace between the two species ๐Ÿ˜‰ Still. Tis fun to write some things down. Hope its a cracking game this weekend.


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