Thursday 23 January 2020

Five things the head coach has to address for ultimate glory

1 SPOT THE NEXT BIG THING

The interim coach's England found their early simplicity well suited to the trend of caution in the Six Nations. What comes next as the new powers-that-be at the IRB examine the breakdown and scrum? England are still catching up after the World Cup; can they anticipate the next initiative and steal a march?

2 BALANCE THE BACK ROW

Chris Robshaw's stats, Tom Croft's running and Ben Morgan's yards -- all outstanding. But is there a unit at work, a trio that combines with the scrumhalf (who also needs to be redefined) to take the pressure off Owen Farrell as the game-manager? For example, Tom Croft often stands very wide, which is fine if he's scoring, not so good for close-knit operations.

3 BASIC SKILLS AND ADVANCED PROTOCOLS

The details of the international game can be meticulous: advances at the breakdown are measured in inches. But there are basic skills (under the strain of the international tempo) that England need to improve. A simple series of accurate passes, say, and Dave Strettle would have scored against Wales. Teaching advanced theory and repeating the blindingly obvious ad nauseam is a tricky combination.

4 NOT POPPING THE BUBBLE

The England coach has to communicate and connect with the feeder clubs. But he has to do everything his way in the England camp, ignoring what is in the interests of the clubs. Perhaps England, already the lightest forwards in the Six Nations, need to be even more streamlined, free of the layers that cushion them against the unrelenting contact of club rugby.

5 PROCEED WITH CARE

England cannot win everything between now and the World Cup in 2015. Sharp improvement may even be disadvantageous for their long-term goal. Putting performance before results in 2012 and 2013 is as fraught with peril as losing rhythm in 2014, but now is the time for experimentation in style and daring in selection.

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