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Stats debunk Borthwick's 'improvement' claims

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: England may have a new coaching set-up, but they are still playing the same ‘robotic’ style as before.


New England coach Steve Borthwick would have you believe he is busy ‘revolutionising’ the game at Twickenham, but the numbers simply don’t match up.

Borthwick’s reign as England coach started with a dramatic 23-29 loss to Scotland in the Six Nations opener at Twickenham at the weekend.

And in his post-match response to media questions, he suggested they are busy changing their style.

“We saw some improvements in the attack and speed of the ball,” Borthwick said.

“We tried to improve the breakdown, where England was ranked ninth – one of the slowest in tier one.”

However, it appears the England mentor was selling the media porkies.



Their defence is still as leaky as a sieve and the forwards remain their go-to for attack.

The backs, by and large, are used for kick-and-chase.

This is borne out by the match statistics, which Borthwick will find once he does his usual post-weekend review and analysis.


For starters, England – who had 57 percent possession and 71 percent territory – made 102 tackles and missed 20, for a success rate of just over 80 percent.

In one try, the first Duhan van der Merwe score in the 29th minute, there were five missed tackles.

In contrast, Scotland, who clearly were forced to make a lot more tackles (208), missed just 22 – a success rate of almost 90 percent.

Just as significant is the manner in which England take the ball forward – prop Ellis Genge (18), flank Lewis Ludlam (17) and No.8 Alex Dombrandt (12) in the top five of players who had the most carries for England – Genge and Ludlam at No.1 and No.2.

Fullback Freddie Steward and flyhalf Marcus Smith (both 14) came in just ahead of Dombrandt.

Genge managed just 82 metres (4.5 metres per carry) and Ludlam 72 metres (4.2 metres per carry).

Again, Scotland’s best carries and metres came from a very different source – with only one forward getting into double digits in terms of the number of carries and all five for most metres carried are backs.


Finn Russell (19), Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu and Stuart Hogg (all eight times) were among the most carries for Scotland.

Pierre Schoeman (10) and Jamie Ritchie (nine) were the forwards who carried the most.

Van der Merwe (104), Russel (86) and Kyle Steyn (four carries for 64 metres) were the top three Scottish carriers for metres made.

Scotland’s forwards feature very prominently on defence – No.8 Matt Fagerson (27), flank Luke Crosbie (20) and prop Pierre Schoeman (19) the top three tacklers.

Captain Jamie Ritchie and lock Richie Gray (both 16) also made more tackles than any other English player.


* Stats provided by Sage




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