You can never have enough scrum halves?

The idea for this is based on a game I played blindside in (many years ago).  I spent all the first half not being able to put a finger on the SH.  When I discussed my problem with our coach he  turned and counted the number in our opponents team.  He got up to 16.  Investigation revealed that they had two SHs, but no-one could tell because we were not rich enought to afford shirts with numbers on.

This got me pondering on something that has irritated me for a while, namely, how often ruck ball is slowed waiting for the SH to sprint half way across the pitch.  So why wait for them?  Why not coach any player who is first to arrive at the base of a ruck to assess whether moving the ball quckly is on?  While this might disrupt some practiced attacking patterns you would be attacking a disrupted defence.

Eddie Jones: ‘That’s why we’ve gone to having a more X-factor type fullback’

Eddie Jones believes test rugby has evolved into a hybrid of the NFL and football in the past 12 months, a trend he believes will place a great onus on pace, power and tactical kicking at the World Cup.

Such a shift, comprising longer passages of “unstructured” play, has contributed to selection reassessments in certain positions over the latter part of this four-year cycle.

Prioritising the speed of Elliot Dand Anthony Watson at fullback over the experience of Mike Brown has been one result of the England head coach’s logic.

“Brown is a great fullback.” said Jones. “He’s a great defensive fullback, but we feel, the way we want to play, we need a fullback who can attack and with pace. Fortunately for us, Daly and Watson are our best options.

“The game keeps changing. I see this game now where it is basically a mixture of NFL and soccer. You have got the first three phases that are basically all power and precision. Then you have the kick-return game which then becomes football.

“That sort of analogy for us became clear in the last 12 months and that’s why we’ve gone to having a more X-factor type fullback who can be more commanding in that more unstructured rugby.”

Daly, who started the 13-6 defeat against Wales on Sunday and was bombarded by high balls from Dan Biggar in the early exchanges, estimated the international game is now “65 per cent unstructured to 35 per cent structured”. While there are generally fewer opportunities to launch first-phase moves, a set-piece platform remains so valuable that carefully-choreographed shapes, akin to offensive plays in NFL, are drilled meticulously.

Jones also highlighted centre Henry Slade, “a 13 who can kick, run and pass”, as England aim to manipulate back-field defences and find space by putting boot to ball. Grubbers, dinks and chips were prominent weapons as they amassed 24 tries in this year’s Six Nations.

The composition of England’s back row is another interesting consideration. The candidates are undoubtedly working hard. Jones revealed that Billy Vunipola had “run 300 metres further than he ever has in a game” during the 33-19 win over Wales at Twickenham nine days ago.

Confirming that Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes would be seen as potential blindsides in Japan but that Maro Itoje would remain at lock, Jones suggested the back row would be altered according to England’s opponents. Teaming up Curry and Sam Underhill, for example, might be problematic against a team with more than two specialist lineout jumpers.

“We played Wales the last four years and averaged five lineouts a game, so the lineout is not a significant factor against them.

“But we played New Zealand in November and they schooled us in the second half in the lineout. They had [Scott] Barrett, [Kieran] Read, [Sam] Whitelock, [Brodie] Retallick and we couldn’t win the ball.

“They had four jumpers and I think we lost five lineouts and it probably cost us the game. Against New Zealand, we have to have a jumping back rower. They are a huge kicking team.”

There is still time for England to add variety. In naming his 31-man squad around a month before World Rugby’s deadline of September 8, Jones has aimed to “minimise the noise”, adding external distractions may have been possible because “the media is more powerful [in England] than anywhere else in the world”.

Having said that, first-five George Ford hinted humid weather expected in Japan and simulated at England’s training camp in Italy could enhance the value of a strong kick-chase.

“The thing we noticed most in Treviso was how the humidity affected the sweatiness and greasiness of the ball,” Ford said. “It was like playing in wet weather sometimes, and sometimes in wet weather, you are better off without the ball. You’ve got to understand when it is going to be like that and how difficult it is going to be to keep the ball. That might bring the kicking game into play more and having a really strong defence.”

The Story Of Rugby RTE

This new series has just launched on RTE and looks worth the watch.

Do any of our Irish friends know how to view RTE on catch up?

Id quite like to watch it for Martin Johnson’s opening statement alone…

“Plan A is some big guys run hard,” he explains. “Plan B is some big guys run hard.” Plan C, he elaborates, “is some big guys run hard.”

Three locks doesn’t work.

Lawes is an ace, genuinely class player. He carries well, has a trademark tackle and silky hands. He also offers a great lineout option.

But he shouldn’t start for England. If Eddie starts three lockable on any knockout stage or one of the latter two games in the pool we will find it quite hard to win.

Lets start with the drawback to starting him; the breakdown suffers massively. Lawes is slow and ineffective at the breakdown. In 2018 we were dominated there in almost every game he started at 6. This was also apparent in Cardiff last week. The amount we play off of 9 and 10, and the quality of jacklers around the world, highlights that we need a solid breakdown.

It doesn’t help that he hasn’t started with either underhill or curry yet but having him and Billy in the back row puts too little emphasis on the breakdown and if teams were to figure out how to deny undercurry free reign in the breakdown then we would be screwed. Wilson must start so we can have dominance in the breakdown without losing a big carrier and tackler.

Another positive of keeping Lawes from the starting pack (sounds harsh) is that the bench becomes considerably stronger by having such a threat coming on for 30 minutes at 4/5/6. A lot of our early success with jones came from winning the last half by bringing on players of a starting calibre.

Without two of Curry, Underhill and Wilson, we lose much of what gives our massive pack it’s momentum. Bringing Lawes on for the second half once we have established good breakdown work and the ref views us as the dominant team going forward will allow some pressure to be lifted and for Lawes to go about being the nuisance we love.

Ready to Launch!

Alright Chaps. Muck Clearly tells me that, allegedly, the site is more or less fully functional. We are ready to launch. Of course, there are still tweaks, improvements, and until we’re properly using the site, we won’t know what things need changing or improving. But it’s in a fit state to start using.

Since yesterday, the submit post form has been swapped from the WPforms one for another with a bit more of a fully featured editor. It then made sense to get rid entirely of the WPforms plugin since it’s $200 a year and it’s primary purpose was to allow user submission of posts from the front end. But to do that, it was also needed to swap out login, register and donate forms. So instead, we now have a proper user membership plugin that allows account management as well as registration/login. The paypal donation plugin was swapped out. And as a bonus, a direct messaging facility was added.

In order to post topics you’ll need to register, login, and submit a post. Note, the site is configured on a sort of trust system – the very first post anyone makes needs approval. Once you’ve had your first approved article, you can author other new posts at will. This might be a minor inconvenience, but it will stop bots/undesirable individuals from being able to make posts, while allowing regular posters much freer access. Hopefully this kills spam problems.

So please, start posting. Let’s give this thing a go and see what falls off.

Oh, and straw poll:
Running the site with Ads (subsidizes the running cost, but, ads)
Running the site without Ads (100% reliant on donations, but, no ads)


Internecine Scots

Not sure who caught the France vs Scotland game yesterday, but it was a shambles for the visitors.

Tom English noticed and penned this rather savage piece, essentially calling Townsend out.

Admittedly I suddenly feel less enamoured with Scotland’s “underdogs with flare” prospects.

Thoughts? Fair cop from rugby’s wordiest wordsmith?

Who would you select against Ireland?

My eternal gratitude to CMJS for the creation of our new home. Without further ado let’s talk ruggers.

Knowing what we now know from th two games against Wales. Who do you select against Ireland?

1. Marler
2. George
3. Sinkler
4. Maro
5. Kruis
6. Ludlam
7. Underhill
8. Billy

9. Heniz
10. Farrell
11. May
12. Francis
13. JJ
14. McC
15. Watson

Welcome to the Rugby Refugees

Welcome to the Rugby Refugees. Formerly DTRR. A community of maniacs who love Rugby.
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