Video Analysis: England vs Wales - Green and Gold Rugby

Video Analysis: England vs Wales

Video Analysis: England vs Wales

International Rugby is about making good decisions when the pressure is on and if it wasn’t an already interesting enough game, England’s Jekyll and Hyde performance against Wales has left us with plenty of unanswered questions ahead of the England vs Australia encounter this weekend.

Obviously the defining moment of the game was England’s decision to kick for the corner.

It’s been discussed in great detail in many places, so in the video above I wanted to revisit that Lineout and talk through a couple of the options England had available to them and illustrate why the one they chose failed so drastically.

Go for the draw or go for the win? Everyone has an opinion. Mine was that I was ok with England’s choice to kick for the corner (I outline why here).

Now whatever your reasoning you have to make sure that if you’re going to roll the dice your next play has to be effective even if it means changing the call.

And that inability to deviate from the call is where England very much came up short.

Many don’t agree, but I think the call to kick for the corner was really positive rugby, it was aggressive and about closing out the pool not just the game. But to then take the safest of options, when you have a backline that’s already scored from a similar position playing against a decimated defensive line and you’re sending them backwards and creating space?

Green and Golds very own Matt Rowley made a comment earlier in the week, on Twitter, about England’s negative mindset in attack, and he was right.

Regardless of your views on the legality, the England scrum was dominant enough, yet it wasn’t used as a weapon to send defenders backwards and create space it was used as a way to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Of course there is nothing wrong in that, but I think when we parry it against what happens here with the choices England take, we can start to see they seem to still have a mental block around trusting their ability to break down defences efficiently.

I mean think about it, Wales at that moment in time had their 10 at 15, their 14 at 13, their reserve 9 at 11, their reserve 10 on the pitch. Surely you have to fancy your chances?

Whilst so much has revolved around the negative aspects of Englands performance, defensive lapses and this decision we shouldn’t forget that England bossed the game for the best part of 60 minutes and looked like they would push away and close out the test match.

Ultimately it’s important for Australia to not get sucked into playing in their own half, and it’s even more important for Foley to bring his kicking boots. As we saw last week with Biggar, as long as you can keep that scoreboard ticking over then you negate one of England’s biggest threats – Farrell’s boot and drain their confidence. Do that, shut down Ben Youngs and Australia will drain England’s confidence.

Let England build a lead, allow Youngs to get around that corner, bring his forwards into the gaps and run the tempo of the game and England could well start playing some actual rugby.

Either way it’s set to be another belter of a game.

  • Joeleee

    I think your ability to take emotion out of it when dealing with your home team is a really admirable quality of your analysis. That, alongside your really strong understanding of both Northern and Southern Hemisphere rugby make your pieces my favourite to read/watch. Thanks again for posting, insightful as always!

    • Thanks I appreciate that. I try to keep things as objective and fair as possible so they aren’t just some guy ranting about how his team were robbed/are amazing etc….

      Though if you’d seen me during the game i might not have looked so calm and unbiased :D

  • Who?

    Good analysis Graeme. I think anyone who says that England should’ve settled for the draw (which is what a shot would’ve been – settling for the draw) should be happy with the loss, because they clearly don’t have confidence in their team. A draw wasn’t a good result, a win was a good result, a bonus point win was a very good result, and a bonus point loss isn’t that much worse than a draw. One point instead of two – not much difference!

    I have no problem with the maul, but the maul off a lineout… It’s always a dubious setup. You’ve mentioned that the jumper needed to get between Charteris and Robshaw on landing, but that prevents the formation of a maul, which requires the tackler to bind onto the ball carrier. If he can’t reach the ball carrier, you can’t form the maul. Similarly, you’ve pointed out the Welsh taking out the jumper on the touch side, while Robshaw’s still in the air. Another piece of illegality.

    There’s so much penalizable in these setups it’s just not funny, and, for mine, if the jumper’s going to have the ball out with a receiver’s hands on it before his feet hit the ground, as Robshaw did, then my belief is that the jumpers have invited a free for all. That anything goes. Because they’re preventing a contest for possession. The only way a maul defence should be penalized upon the creation of a maul for timing is when the team creating an attacking maul get it right. Which they rarely do.

    By ‘get it right’, I mean that the jumper comes down, and takes the first contact. He’s the spearhead of the maul. His jumpers need to fold round behind him, not jump in front. Fold behind, over the ball, their shoulders into his hips, and the ball carrier then getting the ball down under their stomachs. This may mean placing the jumper down in the gap – but that’s fine, he’s contesting the lineout. The jumpers aren’t, they need to be support for the maul.

    IF those conditions are met, then the defensive team have a real chance of tackling the jumper, and therefore they should contest legally, too.

    • thanks, and you’re right about the maul.

      I’m sure there was a directive that refs should look closely at the Maul and police it properly but they seem to have gone the other way and just left teams to it.

      I think ultimately we all know things happen illegally around these, which is what makes England’s decision to throw front and the subsequent passiveness so disappointing. With a quarter final on the line they should have expected it and dealt with it before the Welsh even got started.

      • Who?

        I’m confident – very confident – that you’re right about a directive to refs about watching the maul more closely. However, the way it was read down here – especially with what we were seeing during S15 – was that it would be about ensuring players on the attacking team joined from behind or beside the last player, and making sure that the ball carrier was always bound. Which wasn’t always happening during S15, either.
        I was hopeful that this meant we’d have the TMO quickly check over each mauling try to ensure those two points were fine, but that hasn’t even happened, even though the TMO’s have been more involved in this tournament than all other RWC’s combined!
        I will say, I really do hate seeing the jumper with his hands out to hand off the ball while he’s still being held in the air. That, for mine, is very close to cheating. I’m not singling out England for this – Matfield does it all the time, and he’s not unique in that – but… You can’t be tackled in the air, so you can’t create a maul until you hit the deck, but you’re handing off the ball to someone behind the lineout who generally wasn’t the receiver (it’s never the 9, usually the 7, sometimes the 2 – which means the lineout should technically be over), whilst expecting the other team to stay onside and only compete through the front..? It’s a massive double standard, and so it’s hard to judge where the first infringement occurs. But refs tend to give a lot of leeway to the attacking team in this circumstance – arguably too much, during the formation – so I find it hard to complain about defensive teams also taking advantage of the mess.
        I think the real point – and your point – though, is that England telegraphed their option so clearly (with Robshaw’s lifters so clearly pre-bound), ignored the space that created (particularly at the back), and then failed to execute what clearly should’ve been a pretty safe play. Even when a maul is stopped at the 5m line, it’s very rare for the attacking team to be unable to get the ball back out. Let alone for them to be bundled into touch. Very poor lineout management, to be unable to alter a call.

        • agree with all of that

        • m0b1us

          It’s technically obstruction if the ball is handed off before the maul is formed – you occasionally see
          this pinged – about as often as a crooked feed. England should have just thrown that lineout
          straight to the SH – Garces wasn’t bothered about straight throws all night.

          Robshaw’s been slated but I think the decision was the correct one. The execution is what was
          totally piss poor. Should’ve at least created a maul defence infringement and another penalty.

  • Mitch T Gray

    Great Video, as usual!

  • Douglas

    Thanks Graeme, great video as always.

    I agree the decision to go for touch was an ok call, it’s the sort of decision that can define a match and possibly the tournament, it was a gutsy call but if they’d backed themselves and scored it would’ve been a great boost for the team,

    The thing that stood out for me however was the completely predictable obviousness of what they were going to do with the lineout throw – everyone watching knew a rolling maul was coming next, the only question was which point of the lineout it would occur in. Unfortunately for England they chose the worst point and the rest is history. What I don’t get is why they didn’t try catching the Welsh by surprise and moving the ball out wide or doing something, anything, less predictable than what they did. That’s their real failing.


an Englishman living in France, Graeme runs the Rugby Analysis website He coaches in his spare time, is an IRB qualified coach and you can catch him on twitter lazily re-tweeting other peoples comments.

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