“I think they are looking to attack like Wales with big, gainline runners and not much ball movement. You struggle to beat the All Blacks like that.”
— Eddie Jones
With Jones being the ever so critical man that he is; never one to shy away from finding weaknesses in fellow coaches, the English boss has now been joined by former Lions assistant, Eddie O’Sullivan, in digging out current Lions boss, Warren Gatland:
“At the moment he is prickling at a lot of things, and it’s very early days for that, it’s a long tour.
So I’m surprised a coach of his experience got sucked into the “Warrenball” debate. It has put pressure straight away on the team to put in a big performance against the Blues.
The references to needing more preparation time is almost telling the squad that they are in trouble,
He probably needs to step back a bit and get on with it,”
The former Lions assistant was referring to the prickly interview Gatland gave after being questioned on the origins of the “Warrenball”. And, with Gatland’s success with the Wasps, Wales, and the Lions in 2013, the Kiwi-born has every right to feel frustrated, and get defensive over a constant reputation which suggests his success his simply built on a ‘boring’ style of rugby.
If you rewind back to last summer during Wales’ test tour in New Zealand, it would seem that there was minimal use of this “Warrenball”.
The Welsh side admittedly were whitewashed 3-0, but, they gained huge respect, and were leading for large periods in the first two tests by playing entertaining rugby.
Wales played incredibly heads up, expansive, running rugby, which only fell short because of the superiority of the All Blacks, and the general brilliance of New Zealand on home soil.
The first Lions test against the Provincial Barbarians, was, in all honesty, a shambles; but, it’s not the sign of things to come. In a defence of his side, Gatland had the following to say after the game:
“The message to the players is we want to play positive rugby, we want to be able to move the ball and shift and create chances. To match the All Blacks, you have got to display a bit of X factor.
“That can be an offload or doing something that’s a little bit outside the box.
— Warren Gatland
The Lions have far greater options than Wales – naturally – in taking the game to the All Blacks, and matching them at their own game. Warren found a way to outthink the Aussies in 2013, and this constant referral of a physical game which gave success to a Wales side years ago is not solely what Gatland brings to a rugby team.
Smart and heads up rugby is what the Northern Hemisphere side are expected to deliver, and although that was not on the show in their first touring game, there is still plenty of time to get it right.