Friday, February 5, 2016

The Battle For No7 – Part 2

With guest writer - The Rugby Analyst - a Professional Rugby Analyst.

Eddie Jones revealed a fresh and exciting EPS squad, drawing many plaudits on the balance and make up of the squad. The team that takes the field against Scotland however may leave many feeling the slate has not yet been wiped clean enough. We await to see the philosophy employed by England which should align to the personnel selected. The battle for the no7 shirt has been won by James Haskell, here we offer you the chance to analyse the three 7s available and see if you agree. 

James Haskell 

Unrivalled experience at test level of the 7s in the squad boasting a decorated career, Jones himself has stated he is the fittest player, but it will be his aggression that has given him the nod. In Jones hard edge England Haskell will ruffle feathers smash breakdowns and dominate collisions. 

Haskell dictates the speed of ball in different ways, his strength allows him to stand up in the tackle and ‘choke’ the ball carrier, creating a collapsed maul, meaning he doesn’t have to roll clear of the ball. 

Paul Gustard’s (Defence Coach) breakdown philosophy at Saracens involved ‘chop’ tackling players to floor and someone aggressively contesting by pushing through the space over the ball keeping others on their feet in the defensive line, once they sensed a weakness they piled numbers into that space. 

As the clips show Haskell knows when to leave the ball and use his leg drive to challenge opposition clearers causing disruption to breakdowns. He is adept at carrying hard close to the ruck and maintains continuity by blasting opposing players clear of rucks, allowing others to flourish in the wider channels. His enthusiasm and line speed leave him susceptible to over chasing and therefore missing tackles. 

Sometimes he cannot resist playing the ball giving away breakdown penalties.

Jack Clifford

Jones stated Clifford is providing cover at 7, his explosive running is unrivalled in this position. By working astutely in the wider channels he assesses the hip position of individual defenders to change his angles of running and has the explosive power to break the line. 

It is his ability to pick up defensive cues and efficient work rate that causes him to score tries rather than luck. He repeatedly demonstrates technical understanding to maintain possession by keeping the ball away from danger. When carrying has the presence of mind and skills to transfer the ball between hands away from tacklers and keeps it moving when tackled to the ground preventing potential interference. 

A very reliable tackler but often loses himself to the ground during the tackle making it a lot harder getting back to his feet to contest. 

As the clips demonstrate when he maintains his feet he has the ability to disrupt the ball, with experience his accuracy in second guessing ball placement will allow him to win more turnovers. His ability to play 6,7 and 8 will only further his cause.

Matt Kvesic

Jones has released Kvesic back to play in the premiership for the past two weeks, being a specialist open side will probably limit him to either start or be left out entirely. His work rate into position, ability to predict ball placement and strength to resist clearout once over the ball make him a threat on almost every possession.
Hovers when others tackle to floor before clearly trying to show he is not part of the tackle. His low centre of gravity allows him to survive opposition clearers, placing his hands beyond the ball and locking onto it once contact is made.
He is also aware of intricate law book details, after tackling he is back to his feet before a ruck is formed and with no offside line steals the ball. This is however a dark art and he has to react accordingly to the discretion of referees.
A competent carrier who works hard to always be on the shoulder, keeping continuity by utilising handling ability to link the play. Uses footwork to offset defenders although sometimes finds himself killing his own momentum limiting his carry yards after contact.

We await to see the philosophy employed by England which will provide You may well have formed an opinion from the vision alone but to add weight or counter your argument here are the statistics so far in the Aviva Premiership.

Read the full article and see the rest of the stats and graphs that tell the true story behind how each player performs at the breakdown HERE