During last week’s round of Autumn Nations Cup fixtures former Welsh captain Sam Warburton explained to fans why teams kick so much whilst doing punditry during Wales versus Georgia.
“People say to me regularly, why do we kick the ball all the time? Why are we kicking the ball?” said Warburton.
“Straight away I think ‘You haven’t played international rugby then’ because you can not run yourself out of trouble for 80 minutes.”
The former British & Irish Lion explained that it is a much more efficient way to make territory as opposed to carrying your way out. If you have a good kick chase, you will make far more metres.
This week’s Wales versus England clash delivered more territorial kicking than most fans could stomach, with many venting online that they are fed up with the kicking despite Warburton’s explanations last week. Fans called on the teams to ‘stop kicking it away’ and asked ‘will it ever end?’ after what seemed like ‘endless kicking’, particularly by England.
They labelled the tactic by Eddie Jones’ side ‘boring’ with one fan hoping that this doesn’t become the norm. He wrote ‘got to hope that this endless kicking isn’t the way international rugby is going’ after watching a ‘tedius’ match.
Got to hope that this endless kicking isn’t the way international rugby is going #WALvENG
This match has been tedious
— ronitropic (@_nonameagain) November 28, 2020
— BarryP (@pringle_art) November 28, 2020
Stop kicking it away!!!! #WALvENG
— Paul Kimber (@PDKrugbyref14) November 28, 2020
England are kicking too much…. feckin boring now #WALvENG
— Neo ?? (@Neon_Knight23) November 28, 2020
Jesus wept, the kicking. Will it never end? #WALvENG
— David McIntosh (@bingomister) November 28, 2020
— Rupert Hoare (@farmerrups) November 28, 2020
I know it has (some) tactical merit but come on England, play it through hand please. Endless kicking is bloody boring! It’s hardly poor conditions. #WALvENG
— Lewis Butcher (@Lew_Butcher) November 28, 2020
I'd appreciate England playing the ball wide through the hands more. The kicking is a bit too predictable at times #WALvENG
— Name goes here (@chris_sanders) November 28, 2020
— StokesyOne (@Stokesy_One) November 28, 2020
At the risk of repeating myself this week…..STOP KICKING THE BLOODY BALL AWAY! #WALvENG
— Stef ?? (@Stefwalter21) November 28, 2020
STOP. KICKING. AWAY. THE. F*CKING. BALL!!! ?
— Michael Brown (@idyllsend) November 28, 2020
Seriously @EnglandRugby stop fucking kicking it drives me MAD. HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS HANDS #RUGBY #WALvENG #AutumnNationsCup
— Adam Mack (@Macka7) November 28, 2020
— matt (@matt0675) November 28, 2020
all this kicking is really pissing me off #WALvENG
— Rich Wearz (@wearz) November 28, 2020
— alex short (@shortie319) November 28, 2020
I like rugby. Always have. Used to like playing it. Quite like watching it. But sometimes, I find it utterly incomprehensible. The rules are too complex. It feels too referee-led, who’s like the conductor of an orchestra. The long kicking game. It’s all a bit….WTF? #WALvENG
— Jeremy Scott (@Jeremy_D_Scott) November 28, 2020
England constantly kicking was a blessing to Wales. Good effort from wales, Eng simply have more bulk. Few dodgy turnover calls, eng players hanging over off their feet on more than one occasion #WALvENG #Rugby
— Owain (@OAPreece) November 28, 2020
— andrew willis (@bear44willis) November 28, 2020
England’s halves pair of Ben Youngs and George Ford came under the most fire from fans for there out-of-hand kicking during the match. Youngs kicked 14 times while Ford had 13.
Is Ben Young contractually prevented from passing to his outhalf??? Box kicking England #ENGvIRE
— Liam Toland (@LiamToland7) November 21, 2020
For such an important role, Ford's kicking has been poor today. He's such a talented ball player, being forced to play this turgid style of boring rugby. We look so much more threatening when we actually run at Wales! #WALvENG
— Matt Edwards (@mattedwards05) November 28, 2020
Whilst their attacking kick percentage was low at just seven percent, England did use a high amount of contestable kicks (52 percent) versus kicking purely for territory (41%). That contrasted with Wales who kicked for territory 56 percent of the time, contesting a kick just 31 percent of the time and using attacking kicks only 13 percent.
England kicked 37 times to Wales’ 25 for a total of 62 in the match, which was higher than the 47 total kicks in the All Blacks win over Argentina but lower than the 75 kicks between the two sides earlier this year in the Six Nations when England won 33-30.
Not all watchers of the game were displeased, with others trying to explain the strategy behind the kicking which is often done in the hoping of creating broken play opportunities. Just because it didn’t open up the game doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying.
England’s kicking tactic isn’t ‘boring’, it literally promotes open play counter-attacking rugby. It only seems boring when they’re not scoring tries but that’s a credit to how good Wales’ defence was. Against a weaker side England would put up 50 – is that still boring? #WALvENG
— The Rugby Critic (@therugbycritic) November 28, 2020
I know you're not allowed to think this in the era of any kicking is bad. But give me 25 seconds of kick tennis over 45 seconds of waiting for a lineout to form.
But, above all, give me a co-commentator willing to explain why kicking is done rather than moaning about kicking.
— Sam Larner (@SamLStandsUp) November 28, 2020
After the game, England coach Eddie Jones compared the match to a ‘horror movie’ where the ending is one you know. Jones had fears the match would be a replica of England’s loss to Wales in the 2019 Six Nations.
“At half-time, it could have been like a Psycho horror movie, where the woman goes for a shower and you know what’s coming behind the shower curtain,” he said.
“It was like watching that.
“So it was the exact same situation as the game in the Principality Stadium (last year) where we did most of the play in the first half, were slightly ahead and then Wales did a few things at the end of the half to put us off our game.
“We then had a choice at half-time how we would react.
“Would we allow them to continue to do that or do we continue to stick to our game? The boys showed really good tactical discipline to just stick to our game.
“We had one little wonky period for about ten minutes in the second half, but generally speaking we had game control after the break.
The win clinched an Autumn Nations Cup final berth for England where they will come up against France after they dispatched Italy. The two sides finished first and second in this year’s Six Nations and were only separated on points difference.
France were the only side to beat England during this year’s tournament, setting up what will be the biggest test for Eddie Jones’ side in 2020.
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