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Friday Mar 1, 2024

Jonny May explains English attacking woes in fascinating interview

Veteran England winger Jonny May recently sat down with The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast and offered some interesting insight into life under former England head coach Eddie Jones.

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Jones, who was fired by the RFU in 2022, took on the Australian head coaching role almost immediately after departing the UK. Of course, the 64-year-old’s time with the Wallabies has been much documented as it came to a swift end following a dismal 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign.

Speaking about what it was like to play under Jones, May, who himself is a devastating finisher, said there was little focus on the attacking side of the game.

“We didn’t particularly focus a lot on attack with Eddie. I’d expect attack isn’t the priority of Steve either,” the ex-Red Rose wing said.

“The fundamentals of Test match rugby and winning games is that defence has to come first, then set-piece and then breakdown.

“A lot of our stuff with Eddie was just about breakdown and the collisions, hitting the ball at pace. He was just onto the forwards constantly about hitting the ball at pace and being physical.

“Eddie would have been like, ‘if we get our defence right, we’ll create opportunities to score off creating turnovers. If our set-piece is good, we’re going to get advantages to attack from, and if our breakdown and our physicality is good, speed of ball in attack will happen.’”

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Fast forward to 2024, and England’s attacking woes remain despite an influx of talented attacking-minded players.

This has led many to question just where this England side are heading under Borthwick and his coaching staff. Focusing on this point, May said, “They do practice their attack. I can guarantee that Wiggy will obviously be fighting for attack time, but we’ve just brought in a new defence coach.”

Bringing in former Springbok assistant coach Felix Jones, Borthwick will be looking to shift his team’s gameplan in this area to more closely mimic what the World Champions did.

“Of course, every team goes into a game with your menu. So, ‘what are we doing from this lineout? These are our scrum options’, and then every team basically plays the same phase shape.

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“They wouldn’t have as long as they would have wanted on their attack as yet because the foundations are still the foundations.

Concluding the point, May said of Borthiwck, “Eddie and Steve are very similar and we’ve just brought in a new defence coach.”

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