Boring? Not really, but an attacking style will see off Argentina
England should ignore Creevy’s mind games, especially when most sides are predictable
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