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6 Nations Legacy 2023

The first line of Bob Dylan’s, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, sums it all up – “You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last.”

So, what do the respective national coaches take away from this year’s 6 Nations?

Ireland and France are playing well enough to win the next World Cup.

Keeping the pot boiling may be a negative that threatens consistency. And that consistency may be all mental, not physical.

Wales know their senior players aren’t good enough. Some young players have been introduced but finding a blend of old and new is the key issue, as is a new Captain?

Scotland know they can be competitive. Russell is Irelands, Sexton. He will need to be at his best because Ireland and South Africa are in the same group, so little protection available for him.

Italy are lacking in big match experience, but if France and New Zealand are off their game, Italy can surprise them, they are on the improve. There forwards are well coached and abrasive.

For England – Borthwick, I’m sure will appreciate he cannot play Farrell at 12 and he is a kick only 10. He might like to consider a quote from Brian Ashton, “Let’s be a team that wins by scoring tries.” Ford may solve the problems at fly-half, with Steward on the right wing? More ambition please.

Squad selection issues will focus the mind for all coaches. Here are four:

• Bolters, players who suddenly play outstandingly well.
• Young talented players are coming through.
• Players returning from long injuries.
• Late playing combinations that are successful.

Some consideration must be given to rugby’s missing skills:

• Hit spin, accelerate away.
• Hit spin offload. (Support players should always expect an offload.)
• Circle ball. (Loop) Very important that the pass receiver takes the ball forward first so the looping player can receive the ball at pace running ahead..
• Cut out pass selection. When is it better to go through the hands?
• Lets have some more creativity, 5 meters out please. A tap and run forwards is hardly breathtaking!

France demonstrated that the basics executed perfectly can produce outstanding play and ultimately winning performance.

Some of the attacking play I’m seeing in Australian rugby league this season has been of the highest quality. Passing accuracy, timing of the pass, done at pace, numbers in support, exhilarating stuff, just like Penauds, final French try against England. Food for thought.

I think it is time to accept players have got too big!

Bath v Exeter was like a game in the Land of the Giants. Not too many years ago SAQ was the hot message…we need to get back to it!

Pre -World cup warm up games will throw another spanner into the works. There will be injuries as well as many of the points already raised.

Exciting times ahead, I hope!

Coaching thought: “I like Eddie Jones stressing the importance of working off the ball.” I call it team mobility. Maybe it’s time to look at AFL S&C personnel.

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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