FOOTAGE: England’s brutal rucking drills could be secret weapon in war on Scots
Ahead of their final Six Nations match against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday, England have shared footage of them training in the gym on Instagram.
The clip shows the forwards practicing jackling and defensive rucks, ahead of a game where they were humiliated at the breakdown in the corresponding fixture at Murrayfield last year:
This is probably the area in which England have improved the most over the past year. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is the appointment of John Mitchell as defence coach, as his influence on the team is clear to see.
Another reason is the personnel change in the back-row for England. Last season against Scotland, England played with Courtney Lawes at blindside flanker, and Chris Robshaw at openside. Now Lawes is primarily a second-row, and Robshaw is primarily a six, meaning the back-row were slow around the field and ultimately struggled to make any impact at the breakdown in defence or attack. This defined their entire Championship, and their fifth place finish reflected the lethargic pace that they played at.
On the other hand, Eddie Jones has predominantly played the tireless Mark Wilson on the blindside and Tom Curry on the openside this Championship, keeping the likes of Lawes and Maro Itoje as locks, which has revolutionised the team. Wilson and Curry have been two of the performers of the tournament so far, as the addition of an out-and-out seven has paid dividends for England, after years of searching for one.
The Telegraph’s Charlie Morgan recently highlighted how England lost nine attacking rucks against Scotland alone last year, while they have only lost three attacking rucks this entire Championship. The balance in the back-row in Jones’ team, and the intensity that they play with is largely down to this.
Of course, England are practicing defensive rucks in this clip, rather than attacking, but it nonetheless seems like they are just sending a message that they recognise this is the area in which they have perhaps improved the most after a troubling 2018.