- England World Cup winner Matt Dawson previews England v South Africa
- IBM Watson has analysed the personalities of the England rugby team
When you think of scrum halves, what springs to mind? Chirpy, opinionated, vocal, in the referee’s ear. I know – I was all those things.
So it was fascinating to me to learn that IBM Watson found pretty much the same in its analysis of the personalities of the England squad when it came to the scrum halves’ score for agreeableness. The scrum halves’ score indicates different personality traits, such as “you do not shy away from contradicting others” and “you are comfortable using every tactic in the book to get what you want”. I can certainly see a lot of those traits in myself.
Looking ahead to England’s titanic collision with New Zealand at Twickenham, these characteristics - which I believe are applicable to scrum halves everywhere, by the way, not just the English ones - are going to be central to the drama of the game.
I don't know Aaron Smith personally. The New Zealander is undoubtedly one of the best scrum halves in the world. Smith is your archetypal scrum half. He is always chirping away, he's dictating the play, telling the story of the game, putting people in positions, getting to every ruck. He's a nuisance.
I was similar. I was always trying to tell the story of the game as it was happening to try to help other players know what was going on. I’d be whacking the forwards on their backsides and telling them what to do and giving them harsh words or encouraging words accordingly.
As much as they were thinking he's a chirpy little so and so, they were hopefully thinking, “Well, I've got my head stuck up another player's behind in the middle of nowhere and I do need a little bit of direction”.
I knew that I wasn't particularly liked by a lot of the forwards. They would get annoyed by my incessant commentary, but I still believe that it helped them throughout the game.
You may not be surprised to learn that IBM Watson found that scrum halves score highly for extraversion. Their conscientiousness stands out too - this indicates that while the forwards might not like the sound of my voice, the content of what I was saying could be trusted.
Ben Youngs is a much calmer type of player than myself. He feels more like a leader to me, like Wales’ Rob Howley was in his day. Ben is capable of doing his own individual bits, but also he runs the game superbly well, kicks the ball on a sixpence, delivers very accurate passing, and if there is a break he's going to take it.
England tend to play in the right areas of the field and with the right tempo when Ben’s starting the game. When Danny Care is playing, he is more like an Aaron Smith. He is fast and furious, making everything happen around him. Whereas I think Ben tends to make things happen for people a little bit further away from him.
But it’s worth bearing in mind those typical scrum half characteristics, that lower agreeableness, when watching Smith on Saturday. When the All Blacks are able to place the ball in the rucks and create really fast ball for Smith, they have a very effective back line and an ability to handle the ball at pace. You end up chasing shadows.
But South Africa asked serious questions of New Zealand, and Smith in particular, when they won in Wellington in September. The Springbok defence was so fast out of the blocks and so quick up to the line that they gave New Zealand very slow ball and they were matching them with big hits around the fringes. Smith wasn’t getting any of that momentum he thrives on and was often kicking from static ball or from ball on the retreat.
If you can get Smith on the floor or if you can make him to dig for the ball and create three or four-second ball for him, rather than the usual lightning quick delivery, then you’ll know that you're defending in a way that's going to cause them problems.
Which rugby position is your personality suited to?
IBM Watson Personality Insights software has analysed England players for the big five personality traits. Find out what position you are best suited to by taking the quiz below, produced in association with The Telegraph, and you could be in with a chance of winning England tickets.
|IBM Watson Personality Insights||Personality traits|
|Agreeableness||A person’s tendency to be compassionate towards and co-operative with others|
|Conscientiousness||A person’s tendency to act in an organised or thoughtful way|
|Extraversion||A person’s tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others|
|Emotional range||Also sometimes referred to as natural reactions, is the extent to which a person’s emotions shape their decision making|
|Openness||Openness is the extent to which a person is open to experiencing different activities|