Connect with us

England

Opinion: England need to turn to youngsters to rejuvenate attack after Calcutta Cup disappointment

A lot of the focus this Six Nations has been on England’s defence, but the clear and obvious issue Steve Borthwick faces is the attack.

A lot of the focus this Six Nations has been on England’s defence, but the clear and obvious issue Steve Borthwick faces is the attack.

England may have two wins from their first three Six Nations games, but these wins haven’t been the high scores seen from Scotland and Ireland.

So far this Championship, England have only scored six tries; exactly two a game.

By itself, it might not look too awful a stat, but compared with previous years it’s a terrible look for England. As per reports from RugbyInsideLine, the same three fixtures last year (Italy, Wales and Scotland) saw England score 11 tries, which means there is a 45% drop-off in the number of tries scored.

To put this figure into even more perspective, George Ford alone kicked five penalties in their opening match against Italy.

England have a clear attacking problem, but how can they fix it? The answer might already be staring Steve Borthwick in the face.

Young guns could change England’s attack

A real bright spark against Scotland was the introduction of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso. The pacey Exeter Chiefs back really injected new energy into the stagnant attack, and more importantly became a point of difference in the backline.

Fin Smith has also looked good when afforded the chance to play his game off the bench, in particular against Italy. He again added a point of difference, and seemed to want to put players through spaces. His clubmate George Furbank also brought a new lease of life to the attack, providing that extra threat in the back-field, which saw him cross the whitewash.

These younger players, when given the chance, have showed what can be achieved by the England squad, however Steve Borthwick needs to trust them and give them the keys to the castle.

The lack of bonus points, coupled with the defeat in Edinburgh, mean England’s title hopes are probably out the window. This gives Steve Borthwick the perfect excuse to give these players a chance in the starting team.

It isn’t just these two players that could change the course of England’s attack. England A romped to a 91-5 win over Portugal at the weekend, and a lot of players put their hand up for England selection.

Tom Pearson, Oscar Beard, Harry Randall, Charlie Ewels, Jamie Blamire, Max Ojomoh, Will Muir and Joe Hayes were all moved from the main squad into George Skivington’s A team, and they all impressed. Harry Randall provided consistent quick ball, Tom Pearson was fantastic around the park and brought bags of energy and Max Ojomoh and Will Muir brought their joue Bath backline link into the team and added plenty of zip to the side.

Outside of this group, the likes of Cadan Murley, who has been overlooked numerous times as he searches for his first senior cap, Rusi Tuima and Josh Hodge all looked natural on the international stage, and again brought plenty of joue to the attack.

The England A performance showed what can be achieved with fast-paced, attacking rugby, but more importantly targeting space.

The idea of ‘spaces not faces’ has transformed Ireland and Scotland’s attack into some of the best in the world, and it could change England’s. In the Premiership too, Harlequins, Bath and Northampton are especially good at this; and guess who starts for them…

A big part of the attacking change will also be to eliminate the poor kicking game. Kicking for kicking’s sake has seemed to be the approach from England sometimes, however as we’ve seen with Scotland and Ireland, keeping the ball and playing through the phases is often a better way to create space.

Steve Borthwick needs to trust the younger players he ALREADY has in the squad, and if he does it could transform England’s turgid attack.