If Andy Farrell can't "get the backline going", then how is it achieved?
Andy Farrell's decision to turn down a backs role with England to remain with Saracens to continue a job that he says, "isn’t anywhere near half done, and ... I want to help finish" has been met with mixed opinions among fans.
Those that believe that Farrell was the wrong appointment for England have pointed to 'failing to get the backline going' in the recent Six Nations as the primary reason for their doubts about the former RL man. While we all know that 'getting the backline going' means at least getting over the gainline and ultimately scoring tries regularly, how is this best achieved? What was Farrell doing wrong?
The reasons why a backline doesn't get going are easy to spot; ponderous service from scrum-half, static position when receiving the ball, poor angles of running, badly timed runs, alignment not right. (Don't even get me started on the standards of alignment in the pro game, it is almost universally terrible). But identifying the specifics of creativity is a little more difficult. Let's start with a a team that have done it well recently.
Wales broke the gainline and scored consistently in the Six Nations, but analysing the primary reason for this it was hardly a geometrical work of genius by their runners. Simply put, they sent big runners up the middle to smash people out of the way, then recycled it quickly and had players bright enough to use the gaps or wingers big enough to run over people.
This is not to disrespect Wales, they have some very good players at present, more to point out that the view of some fans that creating a competitive attacking backline requires a coach with the brain of a NASA scientist and the creativity of Pablo Picasso on acid, is misguided. Other teams take a less muscular approach to creativity and achieve results, but Wales have proven that is not the only way.
Farrell may not be the right appointment for England, and whether he is or not his decision to stay and learn a bit more of his craft at his club is perfectly sensible. But England fans should not be looking for too much too quickly, or a game that the current squad cannot play whoever the coach is.
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