Eddie Jones’ side looked unstoppable heading into the last weekends Six Nations fixture against Wales following convincing victories over Ireland and France but as rugby sometimes goes things do not always go according to plan and they suffered defeat in Cardiff.
With the World Cup around the corner, it has been clear that England has been testing a few attacking patterns and styles of play, even before John Mitchell's appointment. Although 2018 was a tough year for the side, Eddie Jones has been laying the foundations down for the World Cup since June last year.
Since England’s tour to South Africa back in June 2018, we have seen the side play three different ways and this might be a clear indication that Jones is building his sides armoury and is preparing them to play a different way depending on who they are up against in Japan later this year.
In the June series against the Springboks, Jones seemed to have wanted his men to play a bit more expansive game and we saw the likes of Mike Brown, Jonny May and Elliot Daly get plenty of ball and also score a fair amount of tries in the three matches. Although England lost the series 2-1 it seemed to be a great opportunity for England to play an expansive game. England even looked to spread the ball in tough conditions in Cape Town.
Tries in the South African Series:
When The November Internationals came around it seemed as if England adopted a different mindset and throughout the Autumn tour, they seem to use a more robust approach. Against Springboks and New Zealand, the English looked to smash their way through teams and it resulted in lower scorelines but came across very effective against the Southern Hemisphere sides.
Autumn Internationals 2018
England 12-11 South Africa
England 15-16 New Zealand
England 35-15 Japan
England 37-14 Australia
So far in the Six Nations, Eddie Jones’ side has made use of Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell's tactical kicking game pinning the opposition back and challenging for the ball up in the air. This worked extremely well as England took advantage of the likes of Robbie Henshaw, Yoann Huget and Damian Penaud, who were all playing out of position in the back three and we could see them use this more against Scotland and Italy.
Another significant change in England's approach to the game has seen Eddie Jones selecting an openside flanker more regularly over what he dubbed as a 'six and half'. Sam Underhill was superb for England before injury struck while Tom Curry is thriving in the 7 jersey.
Looking to the group stages of the World Cup, England's tactical kicking and physical approach to the game will certainly come in handy against the likes of France while the more expansive game could be the way forward to get a result over Argentina.
Come to the World Cup we are not sure what sort of a game plan Jones will want his side to adopted but by the looks of it he seems to be covering all his bases and has a plan in place for certain sides.