- England need a dominant lineout
- France need to force turnovers in opposition half
Since its introduction during the 2013 RBS 6 Nations, IBM TryTracker has been an ever-present fixture of EnglandRugby.com’s extensive match coverage.
It has returned for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations and the first four matches of Eddie Jones’ tenure as England Head Coach.
Next up is a gilt-edged Grand Slam opportunity against France in Paris. Having become the only side in history to win this tournament before the final round of games, England will be desperate to finish with a flourish.
HOW IT WORKS
IBM’s Predictive Analytics software analyses historic and current rugby data provided by Opta, the world’s leading sports data provider, to provide valuable in-game stats.
It gives viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game and explains what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of a team win against specific opponents.
The IBM TryTracker includes the Keys to the Game, which predict three pivotal areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. If a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory.
Data collected and provided by Opta for all England internationals is analysed by IBM, before being hosted on EnglandRugby.com.
Reflecting an impressive 25-21 victory over Wales, England hit two of their targets last weekend at Twickenham. Owen Farrell landed all seven of his kicks at goal and the side won 60 per cent of all turnovers in the match.
In manufacturing 11 line-breaks, two thirds of the game’s total, Wales landed one of their designated aims and surged back to come within a try of snatching it at the death. However, the hosts prevailed and now cross The Channel as champions.
- Steal the opponents’ lineout four or more times
- Make six or more line-breaks during the match
- Force nine or more turnovers in the opposition half
Barring a messy first half in Rome, England’s axis of captain Dylan Hartley and forwards coach Steve Borthwick has engineered a very solid lineout return. TryTracker suggests France must disrupt them there, and in general play by forcing turnovers. Muscular lock Yoann Maestri will be at the heart of both efforts. Elsewhere, you sense Clermont quick-stepper Wesley Fofana might just be central to Les Bleus’ pursuit of line-breaks against Paul Gustard’s aggressive defensive system.
- Steal the ball from at least four opposition set pieces
- Make 67 per cent of the total line-breaks in the match
- Achieve a tackle success-rate of 90 per cent or higher
Both scrum and lineout are set to be a pivotal battleground at the Stade de France, TryTracker setting England the tough target of four set-piece steals. Two thirds of the tussle’s total line-breaks is another mark, so more of the ambition and intent that stung Wales is needed. Finally, England would do well to improve their tackle success-rate. They slipped off 19 Wales runners to register a return of 84 per cent. With the like of Virimi Vakatawa lurking, that could prove costly.
Unless you have been living under a sizeable rock for the past few days, you might have heard about Maro Itoje’s performance last weekend. The 21 year-old Saracens lock tormented Wales with a superb display.
By the end of the first quarter, he had two lineout steals to his name, the first coming from the visitors’ very first throw. But the lineout is a collective effort, as further examination shows.
Dan Cole marks the front of this opening, shortened set piece...
...and stands firm as Bradley Davies feigns a jump at the front, Rob Evans retreating towards another decoy in Alun Wyn Jones:
Itoje, who was primed to lift George Kruis to compete against Jones, then pivots as Taulupe Faletau arcs around from the tail to become a jumping option:
Suported by Cole, Itoje just gets in front of Faletau…
…batting the ball down for scrum half Ben Youngs:
And although Jones fires through onto the loose ball, a ricochet off his knee gives a lineout to England:
Later in the first half, Wales had excellent field position. The key man to watch here, rather than any jumper, is Billy Vunipola. As Wales arrive, he scans across, taking stock of where their three main jumpers – Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Sam Warburton – are deployed:
Initially, it appears as though a throw to Warburton has been called, so Itoje calls Vunipola back to help him compete:
However, Wales then feign to lift Davies once more. To counteract this, Vunipola turns to support Kruis. Meanwhile, Rob Evans has arced towards the back to joing Samson Lee in lifting Faletau:
Vunipola clocks this just in time, spinning to help James Haskell in hoisting Itoje:
Itoje beats Faletau again…
…batting the ball down to Chris Robshaw to complete the turnover:
As England chase a Grand Slam, TryTracker suggests similar interventions will help England past France in Paris.