The 2015 Rugby World Cup got underway at Twickenham on a rainy Friday night, and the potential banana skin that so many people predicted failed to materialise. To be fair, most of the people thinking an upset was on the cards were coaches of England’s rivals, like Warren Gatland, the Wales Head Coach, who likes to regularly play mind games.
Although England played well under par, they were still able to claim a bonus point win against a good Fiji side that are ranked 9th in the world.
Set Piece struggles
The faltering of the set piece will be a worry to Lancaster and Rowntree – there is no definitive handbook to detail how the set piece should be coached but the fact that both lineout and scrum struggled a little bit will be a worry – changes will be made, with Joe Launchbury likely to start in the second row.
One thing that you would say about England’s game over the past few years is that have got significantly better at going straight. Lancaster will no doubt have an Employee Handbook that is handed out to all the players to summarise the way in which the team will play, and that way is straight. They stopped doing that for large chunks against Fiji and it showed. They must get back to this against Wales.
England conceded 11 turnovers and made 4 against Fiji. That’s a terrible stat even if you were playing the best back rows in the world. England will need to improve this significantly as the Welsh back row of Warburton, Lydiate and Faletau will have a field day here.
Like you would in a business, Lancaster is going to have to review the performance of his employee’s and see how to play on Saturday.
Like with a business, if you’ve worked with the same people for 3 or 4 years, you now more about them, how they behave in certain situations and what there general attitude is like. The same applies in Rugby, the more you play with someone the more you can learn about them.
This makes areas such as communications and reading much easier. England have only played Jospeh and Barritt together once so to split them up now would be silly. They need more game time together.
Impact of the bench
England’s bench game on and did a good job! They fixed a number of areas including the lineout, the scrum but more importantly open field play. Straight running, off loading out of the tackle and much better work at the breakdown gave England the clear advantage. This is what they must get back to against Wales from the first whistle otherwise the game could be gone and out of reach before half time. They key will be the players executing the right game plan.
IN Cardiff earlier this year, England’s forwards ‘beat-up’ the Welsh pack and gave them the platform they needed. They need to do it again on Saturday!