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Wasps boss Lee Blackett: 'The goal-line drop out is a game-changer'

By Paul Smith
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Wasps boss Lee Blackett has long been seen as one of English rugby’s most innovative attack coaches.

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The former Leeds and Rotherham back moved into the coaching ranks aged only 30 and is about to begin his seventh season with the Black-and-Golds.

Prior to succeeding Dai Young at the helm of the Coventry club, Blackett put together then developed a backline packed with attacking talent including Christian Wade, Kurtley Beale, Willie le Roux, Jimmy Gopperth and Elliot Daly.

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In the process Wasps won plaudits across the Northern Hemisphere for the scintillating attacking rugby that took them to the 2017 Premiership final.

So his views on the sport’s law changes are worth hearing – and perhaps somewhat unexpected.

“We see the goal-line drop out as a game-changer,” he said.

“If you’re held up over the line the difference between going to a five-metre attacking scrum or having the ball kicked back into your own half is massive.

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“It will be really interesting to see how teams defend the pick-and-go and whether attackers have a different approach from close range.

“For instance, if you hold someone just outside the goal-line, by pulling them back into in-goal you turn a five-metre scrum into a goal-line drop out which is a much better situation.”

And given that Blackett’s reputation has been built on high octane, pacy, attacking rugby it is instructive to hear him suggest that tactical kicking has a key part to play.

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“Kicking is an ever-bigger part of the game,” he said.

“It was really interesting to see Harlequins play some devastating attacking rugby to win the title last season but also kicked a lot and did it really well.

“So I think this is an area which will be really important to everyone in the coming months and things like mixing left-foot, right-foot options will come under consideration when you’re balancing your squad in both selection and recruitment.

“Having those kicking combinations from a midfield ruck can be pretty devastating and then the space created when teams have to defend deeper gives you running opportunities.

“But that said, although we’ve had loads of conversations about what 50:20 might do, if you look at Super Rugby there really weren’t that many.

“There is perhaps a danger that we’re over thinking it and it isn’t going to dramatically change the game.”

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Wasps boss Lee Blackett: 'The goal-line drop out is a game-changer'

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