DANNY CIPRIANI: Playing for England should be fun but there seems to be a big disconnect


DANNY CIPRIANI: There seems to be a big disconnect with England’s squad and they don’t play with a freedom to make decisions… playing for your country should be easy and fun and hopefully there’s a change of energy against Japan

  • England don’t play with the same confidence as they do for their clubs
  • There seems to be a big disconnect and they don’t play with the same freedom
  • Playing for your country should be fun and easy but it doesn’t appear to be  
  • There needs to be a whole energy shift going forward starting with Japan 

Look at the names on the team sheet as well as other players they have available, then watch the flow and style of England. Compared to these players in their club environment, there is a huge difference.

There seems to be a big disconnect, in game understanding as well as the team’s framework and their vision. They don’t play with a freedom to make decisions, it’s like everyone is second-guessing themselves.

The tempo in the game against Argentina was very one-paced. But that instinct for changing the tempo and making smart decisions is just what Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell and others do week in week out at their club.

There is a huge difference in how players perform for England and their respective clubs

Playing for England should be easier, more fun and full of life. Taking the field with the best pool of players should bring out the best in all of them.

Look at a young talent like Jack van Poortvliet, who injected some life into the game last weekend because he was decisive.

Rightly, he starts at scrum-half this week, but what is the game plan? What happens in training which causes players to make decisions in the moment, not pre-call, or always run set-up plays hoping there will be space on the next phase?

That is quite an old-school style of play which most teams in world rugby have come away from.

England don't appear to play with freedom and look like they are second-guessing themselves

England don’t appear to play with freedom and look like they are second-guessing themselves

Decision-making at the line by Farrell, along with Guy Porter — or Manu Tuilagi when he comes on — timing his run to commit defenders, will make them turn in and have to make defensive ‘reads’. That would then leave Smith out the back with numerous options as well as his own running game.

The England players would thrive off more connected phase-play in attack, which you get from repetition, change of tempo and an understanding of each other’s game — underpinned by the team’s understanding of the attack structure.

They have to recognise when to gain momentum through their kicking game or how best to get back into their framework from receiving kicks. There needs to be a whole energy shift; a loosening of the shackles and a freedom in their play. That can only come from the coaches’ messaging and a deep understanding of attacking rugby which empowers players to feel confident.

There needs to be a change of energy with Eddie Jones' England side going forward

There needs to be a change of energy with Eddie Jones’ England side going forward 

In rugby, when freedom is mentioned, often we see lots of chip-and-chases or unnecessary miss passes. But freedom is actually all about making the right decision at the right time.

When you feel free, you are more likely to make great decisions. When you feel empowered, there are huge surges of energy. When it is all underpinned by the collective understanding of what you’re trying to achieve as a team, you get combinations flourishing, a team moving as one and passes stick more often.

Hopefully we see a huge change in energy and this team play as they can. The underwhelming performance in week one could be the catalyst for the rest of this series — and that is as far as Eddie Jones should be looking.

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