Whilst Analysing Wales v England I couldn’t believe my eyes. I noted 7 instances of questionable tactics. I struggled to understand the logic behind what we were trying to do against a very average team. I noted at least 10 wrong options, 3 Individual errors, 3 cases of poor work rate.. against England, yes England in Cardiff!!!
There were 3 instances of individual poor skill level. I questioned where we were throwing the ball to the Line Out and which players were in this vicinity, given where we intended to attack? At this level, there would have been clear and concise communication between backs and forwards, Wouldn’t there?
There’s an inexplicable set play from a Line Out, where Josh Adams ran into 3 England forwards who’d just left the Line Out. The ball was won at the front, delivered to the first receiver who switched with an inside pass to Adams, who ran into a brick wall. Fair enough, I initially thought, we’ve tied in a few England players and created a numerical advantage on the short side but Alun Wyn Jones folded around and we failed to switch play. Head up, count numbers and stay where you are AWJ!
Even if the brains behind the operation had some other plan I failed to work out, things constantly change in Rugby and International players should be able to adapt to play with heads up and attack the opposition in areas where they have an advantage. So presumably because no one communicated and definitely failed to look up, the moment was lost and an opportunity went begging!
There were so many aimless kicks and poor skill execution. Another mind boggling Line Out set, where we go to the front with AWJ (Is Tipuric there to decoy a drive, I wondered?) We Deliver off the top and play wide. I note our Tight Head Prop is at the rear of the Line Out and our Hooker Throws and accelerates to gallop across field immediately. To be fair, it’s a 6 man and Toby Falatau has taken up a wide position in the back line but we play the ball behind him to Louie Rees Zamit who has moved around, off his blind side Wing. Toby has run straight and at pace, pulling in England’s widest Defender (Malins) and thus creating room for Halfpenny and Adams outside but LRZ’s running line is naturally across field so when he receives the ball the flow is moving sidewards. Malins now has time to change his defensive line and push out.
This is a glaring missed opportunity. Mason Grady should not be asked to play a ball behind the back of any player, directly from a Set Piece, in the 13 Channel! All he wants is enough time to decide whether he should pass, run or kick in a simple fashion. This is the second chance spurned in a matter of minutes. Both opportunities because, I believe, everything is pre planned!
Again we can re-set with our hooker receiving the pass back to the open side, he tips on to Tomas Francis (our Tight Head Prop) yes two front Rowers! who’ve run over from Line Out, before Francis tries to pass (out the back) behind Tipuric to Owen Williams. Does Itoji knock on? The Ref thinks so but whether it hit Tipuric on the arm or not, we are asking a Tight Head Prop to play make! Had Tipuric been in a better position from the Line Out, (did he have to move towards the front of the Line Out, initially?) he could have been in position to make the pass behind Tomos Francis rather than vice versa.
What a mess but we get the Scrum, at which England get a free kick from an early scrum engage and Farrell puts up a highly skilled ‘Spiral Bomb’ which Owen Williams can’t deal with. Not long after, we turn England over in our 22m but Owen Williams drops in the pocket and kicks rather than, again, get his head up and count numbers to exploit an overlap! We get a big gain line carry at 12 from a scrum (why is Halfpenny cleaning out in the 12 channel?) Does anyone see the scrum collapse with our front 5 on the deck? then a one too many, unnecessary clean out (by Halfpenny, Tipuric and Falatau) which leaves no one else to pass to. They’re all on the floor from the collapsed scrum! England Box Kick to us, we run across their chasing lines, they call this an ‘escort’ policy, which forces the kick/chasers to have to weave inside and outside our players, allowing more time for our kick receiver to regather possession but it’s clearly not going to reach him on this occasion and Dombrandt gains possession.
Do these ‘Escort’ guys realise one of them has to compete for the kick which drops short on occasions?
England score 3pts from an error at the breakdown by AWJ but the re-start confuses me. We kick long. Our Chase Line is 12 (Left Touchline??) 6-14 (JA) 8-4-3-1. 9 is in the pocket. 15 is receiver, deep in the 15m Channel. The Right field Chase Line is 2-7-5-13-11(LRZ), all of whom are overtaken by England’s Outside Backs. Therefore, when England kick to Halfpenny, his pass option to Owen Williams, (who has dropped back, post Kick Off) is cut off, leaving his only option being to run the ball back and create a ruck. Result = Kick back to them!
The next debacle is an aimless kick Chase by Owen Williams, he then takes 11.3 Secs (I timed him) to work back over a distance of 25m, he was in jogging motion as he moved back behind the ball! Wales had a 9 v 5 at that moment but he’s not there to play and override another Pod carry, which leads to the inevitable Box Kick! Later on Josh Adams kicked the ball into England’s In Goal area but he did not realise the England Second Row was his closest marker, who’d frantically moved across from Centre Field to get close enough to make the cover tackle. Josh could have beaten him for speed and a try scoring opportunity would have looked inevitable. Another wrong option!
So England Drop Out from their Goal line and i question our set-up? Why is Josh Adams stood near the touchline and 5m back from the Goal line? Given we know the Kick is long and fairly central, why don’t we have our back 3 in deeper (Kick Receiver) positions? Why does Adam Beard and Gareth Thomas take 8.5 seconds to work back 20m then clean out, then get to the wrong side of Toby’s carry? I question the mobility and work rate of some?
On this evidence i also have to question whether key players have vision? Is the Game Plan all about playing in their half? Does Alex King have a Kick Return Policy? All this in the 1st 13 mins 30 secs of footage! Yes, that’s all I’ve watched. When backing up Wales Kicking tactics, Neil Jenkins stated “it is very difficult when you play at this level because there is not an awful lot of space.” Well to my eye, certainly during the first 13min and 30 secs there was space. We simply failed to see it!