Liam Williams Rugby World Cup 2019: New kings of counter? The re-boot of England’s transition game

Liam Williams Rugby World Cup 2019: New kings of counter? The re-boot of England’s transition game

Liam Williams This is another unbelievable ingredient.

By Ben Smith of

When you think of counter-attacking rugby, England doesn’t first spring to mind.

Most will associate the free-flowing, unstructured intuitive style of play with the All Blacks. However, since their worst-ever finish in a Six Nations at the end of March 2018, England has re-booted this area of the game that has been so pivotal to their success under Jones.

The arrival of attack coach Scott Wisemantel from Montpellier and former All Blacks head coach John Mitchell as an assistant would have no doubt brought fresh perspectives into England’s think tank.

Mitchell, in particular, is widely credited with recognising the under-utilised value of counter-attacking play in the 2000’s and would certainly have brought recommendations forward to Eddie Jones.

After each of the Six Nations championships in 2016 & 2017, the Wallabies were completely dismantled by the kicking game of England and their own turnovers at Twickenham, highlighting how effective counter-attacking play can be for England.

In the 2018 Six Nations Championship, zero tries came from counter-attack and just two from turnover ball for a measly total of 14 percent of all tries scored. Fast forward to the 2019 Six Nations and nearly half (47 percent) were scored from counter attacks and turnovers, according to Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Gracenote.

England’s game is still largely structured around kick pressure and territory gains through the air, however there has been a revived ability to score from unstructured situations and they way they have done this has still been uniquely English.

Personnel changes

The selection of highly skilled, well-conditioned ‘speed’ outside backs has proliferated over the last 18 months with the likes of Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade, and Jack Nowell becoming the backbone of their number one backline, edging out Mike Brown, and the oft-injured Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson.

Gifted athletes with evasive footwork and top-line speed, England’s outside backs are also all kicking options – Daly, May and Slade as left-footers and Nowell as a right-footer – while Daly and Slade are talented distributors. This unit collectively expanded and re-powered England’s counter game during the 2019 Six Nations.

Youngs and Farrell are the controllers in England’s kick

These addons are quite unbelievable!!

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