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What did the autumn internationals show us? by David Clarke
December 7, 2009, 10:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

A great article from the UK Sunday Telegraph

Paul Ackford: What did the autumn internationals show us?
As New Zealand, the last of the European visitors, head for home and the beach, five observations on a turbulent five weeks of international action.

The result is all in the empowerment

Two cameos before England’s encounter with New Zealand: In the black corner, Steve Hansen, the All Blacks backs coach, 30 minutes before kick off, leaning against the posts making a call on his mobile phone while his charges went through their repertoire unsupervised.

At the same time, in the white corner, at the other end of the Twickenham pitch, England had three coaches on the go, all hustle and bustle, with players running this way and that. What was it Dylan Hartley, England’s hooker, said this week?

“I don’t feel I’m playing my best rugby for England. Some of it might be down to a fear of failure, a case of not being able to relax and not wanting to go outside of the system.”

When in doubt get it out

The preamble before Ireland’s home games is as drawn out as anywhere in the world, what with the anthems, Ireland’s Call, and President Mary McAleese meeting and greeting the two teams, plus match officials. So how did Jamie Heaslip, Ireland’s No 8, prepare for the long wait in the numbing cold?

By running out in shorts and short-sleeved shirt, biceps bulging, as the Springboks ambled on to the pitch wrapped up in tracksuits. As a statement of aggressive intent, Heaslip’s gesture was more potent than the most ferocious Haka.

Let’s hear it for the grunters

For all the discussion about the chaos at the breakdown, one facet of the game made a welcome comeback. The scrummage. England’s was far better than most feared given their lack of first-choice props.

France showed that front-five forwards need to make tackles as well as shove. Australia and Matt Giteau demonstrated how good they could be when they have a respectable scrum. And Ireland are still searching for one.

Some things never change

The current generation of players are quicker, more athletic, more capable than any that has preceded them. They are asked to operate in an environment which is more hostile, more complex, and more demanding. Yet there remains a common thread which connects rugby players through the ages.

The best forwards are still markedly inferior to the worst backs when they get the ball in space. The big guys should stick to ball-production, the slightly less-big guys to doing something interesting with it when they get it.

Make of it what you will

There have been around 20 major Test matches all over Europe this autumn and about 20 zillion articles, conversations and discussions trying to make sense of them. Only one truth has emerged.

As the debate still rages over whether England and France have actually improved or are treading water, whether Australia are the world champs in waiting, whether the Boks are in free fall, whether Andy Robinson has got a handle on Scotland, whether Warren Gatland will continue to talk a better game than the one he conjures from his players, and whether Ireland really can sustain an assault on a World Cup.

There is absolutely no argument that virtually all the entertainment has been provided by the boys from the southern hemisphere.

Better Rugby Coaching

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

SA on way out AUS on the way up NZ “bout the same boring like Henry, hansen and Smith ( and I am a kiwi)

Comment by john taylor

A year ago, one felt that if any single England player was selected for any of the World’s top teams, most would acquit themselves creditably; that the problem with the England team was back-room stuff. This year, England playing level has descended such I feel that comment is no longer true – individually, the England team players are sadly far behind most of the rest.

Comment by Steve Johnson




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