Were England careful not to show their hand?

Eddie Jones

How do you explain that extraordinary match at Twickenham on Saturday?

A totally one-sided affair in the first half, with England rampant and Scotland wilting, that somehow ended in a draw – and very nearly Scotland’s first win in London since 1983.

The BBC described “a chasm-like disparity” between the two teams in that opening period, and somehow that was reversed after half-time.

Were Scotland so brilliant in the second half that suddenly England couldn’t live with them? What did Gregor Townsend say to his side at half-time? And what about Eddie, what did he say?

There has been talk of England’s response to the Scots’ pressure and how they need to work on their mental game. That seems plausible, given the defeat in Cardiff. But how much pressure were they really feeling on Saturday at 31-7, or even at 31-19 and then 31-24? Wales had already won the Grand Slam, and there was little at stake.

England put everything through the hands in the first half, playing at pace with backs and forwards offloading to willing runners, whilst others ran decoy lines, causing mayhem in Scotland’s defence and seemingly scoring every time they had the ball.

But in the second half, the plan seemed to revert to aimless kicking from Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell. The contrast was so stark that this must have been a conscious change of tactics, and this allowed Scotland back into the game – as opposed to Scotland forcing the change.

With the Six Nations over and Scotland all but beaten, why would England keep running their strike moves, displaying more of their attacking armoury for future opposition teams to analyse?

As we have seen in recent matches, in this era of detailed video analysis, every team must constantly innovate to stay one step ahead of defences. There was no need to reveal too much in that second half against Scotland, so why not just kick the ball away and keep a few moves under wraps before the Rugby World Cup?

Scotland obviously improved their game at the same time, and it was never meant to get that close – but when faced with defeat, England started playing again and duly scored and managed to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

What other explanation can their possibly be? In Eddie we trust, sort of!

27 thoughts on “Were England careful not to show their hand?

  1. If that was the plan, why not make substitutions earlier to test combinations if the game was considered won?

    1. Keep the subs under wraps. When the replacement 9 comes on during the World Cup, whoever that may be, there will be absolutely no video evidence of how he will play! Genius.

  2. What a load of cobblers, England thought the game was in the bag at half time ( like everyone else ) & switched off, simple as that.

    1. Not quite so simple Stesco. The Scots’ breakdown & back line functioned a mite better with the ball than without out it. What possession England generously donated in the 2nd1/2, they augmented via their loosies’ foraging.. & the rest was almost history.

  3. I notice this article is unattributed.Could it be that the author is concerned that the men in white coats would cart him off for writing complete bollocks!!

  4. Garbage. Typical English arrogance. Nothing changes. The sooner they get rid of Jones the better and address what is fundimentally wrong with the game in England I.e the RFU and the dominance of the Elite clubs. I’m not English but this in not an anti english post just how I see it as a rugby fan. Who wrote this crap??

    1. Blimey someones sporran is on to tight I think, lighten up fella, don’t think it should be taken too seriously.

  5. Incidently, where is the ‘Best of the Weekend’ thread ? it always appears on the Monday but not this week it seems ! nothing to do with England maybe not having a ‘Best of the Weekend’ ??.

    1. Apologies Stesco, unfortunately due to impending exam commitments coupled with a seemingly declining popularity in the best of the weekend article, I have decided to take a little break from the block.

  6. Yes we risk embarrassing home defeat in order not to reveal how we will play at the WC. I suppose the opening 30 minutes wont give anyone a clue, then?
    No, we dropped off intensity wise, we made repeated errors, our leadership was appalling and, for the second time this 6N’s, our half backs were utterly useless.

    1. ???? Probably sums up England quite well actually.

      They have played periods of rugby that at times looked wonderful, the starting tempo of play looked like a blitzkrieg. The points for England in the first half across all games stood at 119 to 35.

      Apart from the fact that Scotland scored 38 unanswered points against England at Twickenham! the next most telling fact is that in the second half’s England scored 65 to 66….

      The game plan in the second 40 mins is obviously just not working, and a reactionary approach is not working either it would seem. Maybe it’s just not possible to play the same blitz rugby for 80mins, and a planned change to the game is needed a lot sooner. Preempt the reaction,don’t just change because you have to, but because you want to and have a purpose…
      Farrell works well behind the fresh forward foot pack. But not it seems when energy levels drop and recycle becomes slower. The same can be said for Young’s. A shift along the line for Farrell with Ford in at 10 seems the obvious way to go, with a fit again Care or Robson in at 9. And hopefully big Joe out wide…
      The last minutes of the Scotland game was unplanned, just England playing rugby, and it proved that they can play what’s in front.

      EJs got 4 games left to earn his coin…..

      1. I can’t think of any other major nation that would need to change half the team and the plan halfway through the game , simply in order to get through 80 minutes.
        What about the much vaunted superior fitness Ed was banging on about not long ago?
        I lean toward the complacency/”bit thick” explanation.

  7. Well, during a Blitzkrieg, in the words of General George Patton, the ‘tanks have gotta have gas’! What he didn’t say, but he could have said was, ‘& it’s not a good idea to kick the cans of petrol away. Especially to the Taffies or the Jocks’! Donner und Blitzen! Also, it may take more than playing ”what’s in front for the last minutes” to win the cigar. Nice try though. Unless you’re an accountant of course.

  8. Another thought. I wonder if it were actually the Scots whom ‘were careful not to show THEIR hand’ in the 1st 1/2? Anyone think of this counter conspiracy, conspiracy theory?

    1. Perhaps ALL the home nations were hiding their real form and tactics and Gatland drew the short straw because there had to be a winner!!!

  9. Maybe the whole tournament never actually happened in real time and the crowd shots were edited in from past contests? Did anyone notice any green screen / time abberations ( like bldg 7) ? I think a full investigation is called for!


Comments are closed.