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Lower Body Tackling & Power Running: Analysing England v France (6 Nations)

An often used phrase concerning players running hard and straight is “power running“.

Indeed, in the demolition of England by France, the phrase, “England succumbed to the power running of the French forwards,” was frequently used.

Prior to the England v France game, I watched the Hurricanes v  The Blues in Super Rugby. This was an exhilarating game with so much production of quick ball from the ruck!

Quick ruck speed enables the attack to move forward quickly as the defense struggles to re-position itself.

The difference between the two games was the effectiveness of lower body tackling against the power runners. England’s players reached and clutched at the French power runners and were shrugged off with contempt. A half-stop only resulted in an off-load to a support player.

In the earlier game, technically correct lower body tackling not only stopped the power runner but ensured the challenge for the ball could result in a turn-over, or in the case of the attack, the production of quick ball and continued go-forward.

Throughout the international game England were found to be wanting in so many of the game’s fundamentals. Many watchers would be questioning what the players had been focusing on in preparation throughout the week. In particular:

  • England’s tackling- lacked technique and accuracy.
  • Re-alignment was slow and non-existent in some cases. The game was happening around some players, who genuinely looked perplexed.
  • Phase play defense. The defense must work as a unit. Penaud’s try from a line-out exposed England’s poor understanding of phase play defense. Up, hold, drift was the answer, not a lazy line speed with the odd player out of line and one defender trying to jam in!
  • Dupont and Ntamack have been chip kicking over the defensive line since birth!! Where was the sweeper?
  • France kick the ball more than any other team. Where was England’s counterattack? The back 3 are or were considered an attacking unit, not if you play for England.
  • Decision making at the ruck was poor. Rucks are attacking platforms and precision is vital if you want continuity.

In 7 days, another humiliation looms for England in Dublin. Ireland have playing maturity, belief, and depth. England lack playing maturity, over celebrate minor successes and are not tough enough!

Considering their first 3 performances Borthwick may have to have a look at his coaching team. Does it have the coaching experience to correct the many faults and blend a group of players into a cohesive unit? The coaching team also needs to blend if it is to be effective. Playing about with different captains won’t work either. Pick a new one and stick with him!

National rugby patience is wearing thin.

About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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