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Oom Rugby – Mitchell gives England a rush

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Not many people gave England a chance against Ireland last week and Oom Rugby looks at how England managed to beat Ireland

Oom Rugby writes for All Out Rugby

Hi guys. After a boring January and December the 2019 rugby season is suddenly upon us quicker than a John Mitchell defence. The Six Nations tournament started with a bang this weekend and it especially was the match between Ireland and England that demand our attention.

We have all read about the tactics by England that gave them the victory, especially the defence, but I wanted to look little bit deeper to see what else was going on in terms of technique, coaching and attitude.

Below we will look at a sequence from the 68th minute, but we will start at the end and then go backwards to see how and why big moments happen in rugby…

The picture above is the end result. The Irish senter Ringrose have been caught deep without support by Lawes and he will concede three points for holding on. What we must note is that this occurred during normal phase play. In other words, it happened when Ireland had possession of the ball and was meant to be dictating. How does it happen that a defence can dictate to the attack?

Above we see the moment just before. There so many white jerseys coming that the Irish look like they caught in a snow avalanche. And if we look at Lawes we can almost see him put some braai sauce on Ringrose before he eat him up like a little snack. How does a lock get into a position to shoot up like this?

The answer is in the picture above. O’Brien play out the backdoor of the pod to Sexton, and Sexton will pass to Ringrose. But notice how quickly the English defenders is adjusting and shifting their interest away from the decoy runners and towards that deeper players already. And more important, look how far up the outside English defence already is. I have marked the offside line so we can see how much ground they already covered.

And this is why. It is like seven Usain Bolts in white jerseys coming out the blocks. We saw this England linespeed over and over again in this match and the Irish simply could not handle it. They were caught deep, they made errors, and they just could not get the ball wide. Ireland is a team who want to break you down with phase play, so this line speed was poison to them.

Let us go even a few seconds earlier to see why England was so quick from that ruck. The first thing is that England is on their feet and not contesting, so they will have numbers which will allow them linespeed (although these days the fashion is that you don’t even need to wait for numbers to rush anymore…).

The second thing is all the communication happening. Look at almost every player talking and signalling and telling the other one what to do. It is like the Thursday night sewing group at the church. With communication we get better structure and we get it faster.

England was able to take their time and organise themself like this because of a horrible pass by Sexton a few seconds earlier, as we see above. This was thanks again to pressure from the England defence. But why was Sexton under pressure? How did England get in his face here? It was because the England defence was already on the front foot from a previous ruck.

Above we see the carry that led to that ruck. Quinn Roux is taking it up but Mako Vunipola go low and hard and chop him down where he stand. We can debate merits of chop tackles or not, but I am more interested in the one dimensional nature of the Irish go-forward carries. Time and again one-off runners was stopped, and time and again that allowed the England defence on the front foot.

Here we see the moment before as Roux go into contact. Like many of the Irish attempts to play direct and start some momentum, he is on a solo mission which will not end happily. There is no latch by his supporting players. There is no option of a last moment tip pass in the face of the defence. And as is the philosophy of Schmidt, the players do not run a offload line either. For most test teams it is easy to then stand your ground and just hit these poor guys back.

In the nutshell, to a large extent the struggles of the Irish attack against the England defence was because the Irish could not make England go backwards first with power carries. If your opponent is wearing sprinting shoes, then you must knock him out of those shoes first before you try to do sexy backline moves!

What we see above is not just the Irish being naïve and trying to play rugby too early, but we also see that they need to work on specific techniques, variations and strategies of carrying to ensure that they can bend the opponent’s line when they need to.

As for England, we see how John Mitchell have very quickly unlocked the rugby intelligence of this group and drilled them into a hard working and cohesive unit.

We don’t want to say too much before a World Cup, but with this evidence the “Mitch” factor was maybe just the missing piece to take England from good to great.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah but England are also permanently camped offsides and this is an EJ tactic. Oz used to do it and run blocking runners. The refs need to martial offside line far better otherwise it just becomes league with no space to run. Penalise early and often.

  2. @Methos The French Stormer:

    Compared to De Allende, it remains a tragedy that these types of players get left out. I’d still choose both Serfontein and Steyn ahead of De Allende. Another one is Marcel Coetzee, who is lightyears ahead of Kolisi and Flo as an open sider, as is Bismarck ahead of both Marx and Bongi, nevermind Brits.

    Imagine a loose trio of Coetzee, PSdT and Duane, with a Bismarck or Marx at Hooker, and Pollard, Frans Steyn at 12 and Serfontein in midfield.

    Suddenly we have a bok team starting to look like Jakes 2007 squad, but of course, we an election the same year as a world Cup, en daar kak ons domestically en Internationally in die pomp.

  3. @Welshbok die Brandwag: I’m as much of a Coetzee fan as anyone. But we can’t really blame Rassie for not picking for the Boks when he injured for the biggest part of the last 2 years. He’s back from injury now and playing great rugby, let’s see what happens. Just can’t see your trio happening though, barring injury, Kolisi won’t get dropped. That is career suicide for rassie

  4. @Aldo: Well, if Marcel played for the Stormers and Kolisi moved to the ZeeBulls, then I am sure Rassie will swap them in no time. Come on Aldo, do us a favour? I have not seen some of these Northern players that everybody wants in the Bok team – the few games that I did watch, were pretty boring and certainly did not elevate the play of Snertfontein, Fransie, the Du Plessis brothers. And for sure there is no consistency in their play – the one week they are the best in the world (beating a no-name team at home), the next week they are snot crap (losing convincingly away from home). It seems there are too many people who just want to pick these players based on the memories of 5 years ago – and on this I am more than happy to trust Rassie to make the right picks.

  5. @Bekke: you start by asking me to do you a favour and then not ask the favour. Run out of words? I did not say he should be included. Maybe learn to read, I said that marcel couldn’t be picked last year because he was injured, then said he is back now and playing really well, so let’s wait and see. And then responded to welshbok’s loose trio he wanted picked. What exactly do you want me to do? Or did you forget the favour you wanted?

  6. @Bekke:

    Suppose you remember the days of Juan Smith playing for the cheetahs, and they lost virtually every game, but their losses didn’t make him a poor player. Same goes for Jacques Fourie at the Lions.

    Nobody can dispute the immense talent that Frans Steyn and Jan Serfontein have, the same goes for Bismarck du Plessis. Nobody mentioned anything about Jannie, don’t know why you referred to the brothers?

    Frans, Serfontein and Bismarck are consistency epitomised, and have been for the past 3 seasons, they hardly ever play a poor game, and I’ve watched them carefully every weekend for the past 3 years.

    Aldo, I take your point regarding Marcel and injuries, but nobody can dispute that Kolisi isn’t even half the player Coetzee is, even when Coetzee is injured

  7. @Aldo: Eish, I forgot it was you! So let me spell it out: Do Stormers fans a favour and give Kolisi a spot at the Bulls. That way (1) the Stormers will perform better, (2) Kolisi will be dropped by Rassie and (3) the Bokke may get a half-decent flanker that does not watch the game from wing. There you go – understand now?

  8. @Bekke: which I got, but its just so much better having you spell it out, as maybe then you get to see how stupid the request is.

  9. Coetzee is v good, but so is Kolisi imo. Got to give priority to those playing in SA. Also he’s a good captain and fiercely loyal to his teammates.

  10. @cab:

    Kolisi is a through and through blind side flanker, not an open sider.

    He can’t be selected as a blind sider though, because we have better blind siders that simply have to be selected, like PSDT and JL du Preez .

    So now, to accommodate Kolisi, he gets moved to openside, and there are better specialist opensiders around too, like Marcel Coetzee, Marco van Staaden, Roelof Smit.

    Kolisi is the captain, the transformation trump card and the problem, unfortunately.

    His missed tackles, low turnover rates, and low tackle counts are seriously problematic, specially when you have props, Hookers and Locks with better stats, and you’re the openside flanker.

    Kolisi had a very ordinary (at best) 2018 season domestically and internationally.

    Duane Vermeulen was interacting in a leadership role with the refs and players, not Kolisi. Its clearly evident who is the boss on that pitch.

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