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6 Nations 2024, Round 2 Analysis

This round of the 6 Nations has raise more questions concerning the way the game is played and refereed. Let’s take a closer look at the match results.

Scotland 16 v France 20

At times farcical! Kick tennis does not appear in any coaching manual.

“Another poor second half by Scotland, climaxed by the case of the disappearing ball.”

Where did the ball go when it rolled off the foot? Everyone who watched globally knew where it was. Did someone tap the TMO on his shoulder because he started to talk of a try, then suddenly changed direction, hmm.

Most of rugby’s ills were on show in the second half, and the crowd let the law makers know. The game lost its shape and attack was more by accident and unenforced errors of which there was plenty, than creativity.

Townsend must ask Russell to run more. Russell can time and delay a pass but in continuous play does he have the fitness? I like Paterson at 15. He is a threat, especially if Russell runs more.

The French pack has lost its go forward, electing for bulk only. Their lineout coach will still be awake as dawn breaks.

Fluency a trait historically linked to French rugby has deserted the National side. It’s still there in places like Toulouse and Bordeaux, but I suspect there is more talk about defence than support play at Frances team meetings.

England 16 v Wales 14

Marcus Smith will feed off England’s new blitz defensive line. Sadly, he may not appear in this year’s six nations. He can ignite an attack that still fails to score tries from positive field positions and superior possession.

When Wales led 7-0, fly half Lloyd had a brain snap and decided to run the ball from his own 5-meter line. England said thank you and 0 became 7.

What is happening in Wales at National team coaching sessions and team meetings?

Gatland said, “Some players are learning about game management, and they learn it from experiences.” When did we ever have to say that about Welsh fly-halves.

Borthwick will be musing over the balance of England’s back row. Earl is really a 6, Underhill goes awol and lacks technical competency. Mercer seems to have talked himself out of consideration as an 8.

England’s blitz line speed defence will be challenged when Ireland arrives at Twickenham in round 4 and bring their double second man plays with them. We will know a lot more about England then!

Ireland 36 v Italy 0

The interesting aspect of this game was how the Italian defence coach set up the Italian defence to cope with Irelands double second man plays (he’s South African by the way).

An outside defender comes up beyond the advantage line to close in on the final receiver. This proved effective but does leave a hole on the defenders inside and makes him vulnerable to the long over the top pass. Attacks are counteracting this by positioning the last receiver almost behind the final passer, thus drawing the outside defender up even more. If he gets the timing wrong the attacking full back can receive a pass in heaps of space.

I love the numerous options second man plays can produce, and when run flat to the advantage line, explosive line breaks can happen. For more evidence of running effective double man plays watch Australian and English rugby league matches especially from behind the posts in the last quarter of the pitch.

One of Irelands strengths is that they have numerous line breakers.

The major problem with England’s attack is that both Farrell and Ford are not running line breakers.

Italy do not have the depth of talent of the other Nations but will certainly challenge Scotland and Wales.

Coaching thought: Set running unders lines as a task to young players (12-14), while you watch and grab a cup of tea. You will be surprised.

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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