We do not play boring rugby, says George
England hooker ignores Argentine mind games Creevy believes match will be just ‘like a war’
England have hit back at claims by Argentina that they play “boring rugby”, insisting the mind games would not unsettle Eddie Jones’s side ahead of the crunch Pool C match in Tokyo on Saturday.
Agustin Creevy, the Argentina hooker and former captain who spent two seasons at Worcester Warriors, fired the opening salvo on Tuesday when he criticised England’s style of play and said the match was going to be “like a war”.
Jamie George, the England hooker, was quick to defend their attacking style. England ran in 11 tries in their opening victories over Tonga and the United States, and George, the Saracens and Lions hooker, dismissed Creevy’s description. “I don’t think we do play boring rugby,” said George.
“I’m not overly surprised that he’s tried to say that, but he’s entitled to his opinion and hopefully we’ll prove him wrong.”
George is used to similar criticisms of Saracens. “It’s trophies in the bag. We are used to it. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s very justified. I’m sure he’s just trying to rattle us a bit. He’s more than welcome to try.”
Scott Wisemantel, England’s attack coach, also questioned Creevy’s analysis, saying: “Creevy might just have been at a boring club in England.
“I don’t think that [England are boring] and he obviously hasn’t been watching much of the Premiership, as there are some excellent teams with so many different styles.
“It is a bit like me making a judgment call on the Jaguares – they are very different. It [England’s attack] is varied and can be very structured at times, but in this tournament a third of our tries have come from unstructured play.
“I don’t necessarily agree with Creevy. I know we have good players. I know we can attack. I know we have multiple threats, so maybe it is a way for other people to pigeonhole us.
“Every team has a fit in how people see how they fit in world rugby, and you’re not going to change that, so we just get on with the job.”
So how would he encapsulate England’s attacking philosophy, since he has been in charge since the South Africa tour last year?
“The easiest way to describe it is that we manipulate space,” said Wisemantel. “We either create space by narrowing them up really quickly or we manipulate space by moving them quickly, and then it’s somewhere else. We’re quite diverse in how we do it. Look at the chances we probably let slip in the Tonga game. If we had taken those chances then everyone would say, ‘Wow, that is exciting’.
“Against the US I thought there were some brilliant bits of openfield rugby, so it is that balance. You have to have a set-piece. Look at every team in this competition who is progressing or going OK at the moment, their set-piece is solid.”
England’s decision to start two playmakers in George Ford and Owen Farrell, a significant shift from last season’s Six Nations when Farrell was at 10 and Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade were paired in the midfield, has also altered their attacking perspective in Japan.
“It just means you’ve got multiple threats with ball in hand, running threats, a 15 [Elliot Daly] who can play the ball as well, so it’s just how you manipulate it.
“And then once the game gets going, outside the first phase – and even within it – there’s no rule to say where everyone has to stand. We’ve mixed it up where people go, what they do, changed their roles, and that’s part of the beauty of this squad. When we train within the skill programme, we encourage them to push the limits where they make mistakes because that’s not a bad thing.
“We can always dumb it down, but we want to skill it up and that’s the big thing. The second thing is that they’re comfortable in multiple roles.”