England focus on skill not size

Date published: July 5 2015

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is aiming to get his pack playing with more skill rather than adding more bulk.

Stating that he believes the days of rugby players getting bigger and bigger are coming to an end, Rowntree added that in the modern game every player from one to 15 had to improve their skill sets.

“We certainly don’t want our boys to get any bigger. I think we have plateaued there," Rowntree told the Daily Telegraph.

“You look at how the game is changing around the world, how often forwards have the ball in hand, the times a forward and a back will exchange passes, the times passes go to second-row forwards.

“You admire great defence, but you can’t keep running into brick walls and hope to succeed. So there’s more attacking rugby going on. The bottom line is that you cannot go into a World Cup with a defensive mindset. You must have a strong defence and a potent attack."

Rowntree added that England's players realised what was now required after their defeat to New Zealand last year.

“Ask the guys who played in the second Test in Dunedin last year about fitness. They came out for the third quarter and New Zealand simply put their foot on our throats.

"They’d never experienced it before, the ball staying in hand for so long and being run so hard.

"Some of the forwards spoke to me about that game and how they felt. They realise now what’s needed.”