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'It's something we've talked about, chopping the big fellas down'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Simmonds has spoken about how last Saturday’s red card for Charlie Ewels has helped focus the minds of England players as they set about tackling France in this weekend’s final round Guinness Six Nations game. Eddie Jones’ team is set to take on the Grand Slam-chasing French in Paris on Saturday and chop tackling will be their mantra – a far cry from the bolt upright technique that got Ewels in all sorts of bother against Ireland. 

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Just 82 seconds had been played at Twickenham when the England second row was red-carded after he had tackled James Ryan head-on-head, leaving the Ireland player crumpled in a heap and missing the remainder of the round four game through a concussion. 

Ewels will learn the length of his likely ban later on Wednesday when he appears at his disciplinary hearing. Meanwhile, England have already made the trip to Paris and Simmonds has explained they have gone there with a determined focus to ensure their tackle technique is on the money to ensure they upset the title-chasing French.   

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“Knowing Charlie well, there was no malice in the tackle, it’s just he is too high and he has caught heads with Ryan and unfortunately it is a red card,” said Simmonds, the England No8, when asked to reflect on the Ewels sending off and how that red card had impacted on the team’s round five training ground preparations.  

“It’s probably something everyone needs to work on anyway, the height in tackle, and to be honest against a huge French pack you don’t want to be going high against them anyway. It is something we have talked about this week, our chop tackles need to be good and our second man needs to be good to wrap the ball up as well because they love to offload the ball, they are very good in unstructured play. 

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“That is probably where they get most of their momentum, offloads and unstructured and they are very good at that. Again, it is something we have talked about this week, our tackle height and just chopping the big fellas down, making them get up, chop them down, make them get up and hopefully they tire towards the end of the game.”

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Similar to last week, Jones has spoken about England needing to ramp up their physicality. Such talk left the coach accused of giddying up Ewels too much and a heavy price was paid, but Simmonds doesn’t have an issue with that type of get-stuck-in-physically narrative.  

“You can’t go into a game not wanting to be physical. If you go into any rugby game, not just an international game, not wanting to be physical you have probably lost the battle already. It’s more a technical issue rather than a physical issue, we have got to be going into this game full-on and things like that sometimes do happen [the Ewels red card]. Hopefully, they don’t happen again.”

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