Monday 5 December 2016

English paper says Eddie Jones’ jibes at Irish kicking is an ‘own goal’ – England do it more

Published 25/02/2016 | 08:53

England head coach Eddie Jones got the psychological warfare ahead of the Six Nations encounter with Ireland going by questioning Ireland’s kicking game, but the facts don’t back up his argument.

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Last week, Jones declared that Ireland kicked 60pc of their possession. Within a few days the Australian had revised that estimate to 70pc while variously comparing their tactics to those of an Australian rules side and Stoke City.

“If they want to do that, good luck to them,” Jones said. “It has worked for them. It is not the way I think you should play rugby but it has been successful for them. They minimise their risk. They are a risk-averse team because they kick the ball so much. They’re a bit of Stoke City.”

The statistics would suggest a different story and writing in The Daily Telegraph, Daniel Schofield has highlighted just how wide of the mark his statements have been.

“For the first two rounds of matches in the Six Nations, Ireland have kicked the least ball from hand (53), which equates to nine per cent of their possession,” he writes.

“England, meanwhile, have kicked the ball from hand 77 times, or 15 per cent of their possession, the most in the championship.

“It was much the same in last year’s Six Nations Championship when England kicked more of their possession than Ireland. Nor are these all defensive kicks. As statistics from Accenture demonstrate, no team have kicked more inside the opposition 10-metre line than England.”

Ireland’s effective kicking strategy has been a key part of successive title-winning seasons in the Six Nations and Schofield argues it would be silly not to play to the strengths of their formidable half-back pairing.

“In Sexton and Murray, Ireland possess the two finest kicking half-backs in world rugby while the majority of their backs have an innate advantage of their background in Gaelic football.”

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