Bor­ing? Not re­ally, but an at­tack­ing style will see off Ar­gentina

Eng­land should ig­nore Creevy’s mind games, espe­cially when most sides are pre­dictable

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World -

Mind games used to go on a fair amount. Clive Wood­ward used to hate some­thing you had said get­ting into the papers be­cause he did not want the op­po­si­tion to have any sort of lever­age or am­mu­ni­tion.

I just think it does not mat­ter any more. I gen­uinely do not think peo­ple give a s---. It is only hind­sight that changes that. If you get stuck into an op­po­nent be­fore­hand and you win the game, you might never hear about it again. If you lose, peo­ple will pull it out and rub your face in it: “Well, you shouldn’t have said that.” Justin Har­ri­son did not win that line-out against the British and Ir­ish Li­ons in 2001 be­cause of what I said about him in the news­pa­per. He won it be­cause he is tall.

Back in 2003, Eng­land were called “Dad’s Army” by the Aus­tralian me­dia as the whole coun­try tried to break them. We see it on Li­ons tours some­times, and it just feels old hat now. It should be wa­ter off a duck’s back.

There was a time when, as a player, you would re­ceive prewrit­ten re­sponses un­der your ho­tel room door for any ques­tions that you were likely to be asked. That is prob­a­bly still the case. I know news­pa­per columns can be con­trolled and even frowned upon.

I have never thought that pre-match com­ments make a dif­fer­ence. So, will Eng­land change their tac­tics be­cause Agustin Creevy has said some­thing about them? I very much doubt it.

Eng­land are not an espe­cially bor­ing team, any­way. I think all the teams are bor­ing now. The ar­gu­ment is that no­body cares, as long they win the World Cup.

The trend of the game is to kick an aw­ful lot of ball away. The more you kick, pro­vided you kick well, the more likely you are to win. This will end up as the World Cup with the most box-kicks.

Most points seem to be gained by ei­ther grind­ing a team into sub­mis­sion in the red zone or by feed­ing off mis­takes. You force the op­po­si­tion into mak­ing those er­rors rather than forc­ing your­self to at­tack.

That is just how it is, the way of rugby now. There is an aw­ful lot of re­search go­ing on from an aw­ful lot of an­a­lysts and statis­ti­cians look­ing at the game. It is be­com­ing a lit­tle bit pre­dictable, which is why things such as an in­ter­cep­tion – some­thing with gen­uine shock value – are so good to see.

You can take New Zea­land out of that bracket. Prob­a­bly Aus­tralia, too, be­cause they played some nice rugby against Wales. Japan are an at­trac­tive side to watch as well, with their high-tempo game. If you get drawn into that, they can beat you for fit­ness. As the hosts get fur­ther on in the com­pe­ti­tion, though, teams will try to stran­gle the life out of them.

The irony is that Ar­gentina are prob­a­bly the most bor­ing team in in­ter­na­tional rugby. They play such a one-di­men­sional game, based on power and a strong set-piece. They go back to that in times of need, which is why I think Eng­land need to spice things up.

France looked good against Ar­gentina with the way they played quickly with an up-themid­dle

France looked good against them with the way they played quickly with an of­fload­ing game

of­fload­ing game. What al­most lost France the match was how they tight­ened up in the sec­ond half. I think Ar­gentina want you do to that. The tighter you play against them, the more chance you give them of com­pet­ing with you.

As we saw against Ire­land in the warm-up matches, Eng­land are good enough at that fast style, so that sort of per­for­mance is what you want to see against Ar­gentina. Creevy say­ing what he has said is al­most a case of re­verse-re­verse psy­chol­ogy. I am not sure he wants Eng­land to at­tack, be­cause Eng­land will win a lot more eas­ily if they at­tempt to play that at­trac­tive style than if they stay tight.

They will want tip-on passes from for­wards such as Kyle Sinck­ler, for Ben Youngs to at­tack the fringes, for Ge­orge Ford to get front-foot ball af­ter su­per-quick minirucks with off­loads keep­ing the ball alive. That is what I want to see.

Li­cence to thrill: Ben Youngs should at­tack the fringes

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