England: The statistics from the Six Nations that will please Steve Borthwick

Jared Wright
England finished the Six Nations in fourth place, but there will undoubtedly be some positives that Steve Borthwick takes from their campaign.

England finished the Six Nations in fourth place, but there will undoubtedly be some positives that Steve Borthwick takes from their campaign.

After taking over from Eddie Jones at the start of the year, Borthwick emphasised the need for improvement in the Red Rose’s set piece.

England fell to a 23-29 defeat to Scotland at Twickenham in the opening game and afterwards, Borthwick explained that there was a lot of work that needed to be done to make his side a force in world rugby again.

Rebuilding the set piece

“We are trying to rebuild the set-piece here. That takes time. You saw some improvement in our attack,” Borthwick said.

He added that when he reviewed the games from last November, England ranked as the worst set-piece team of the tier-one nations. 

“When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I measured the team and got all the data for the team, we weren’t good at anything. It was as frank as that,” he explained.

“So we are trying to build some strengths in this team and some bits we are pleased about and some bits we are disappointed about. My job is to make sure we get some improvements for Italy.

“There are multiple areas we have tried to change. You saw some improvement in the scrum against Scotland, which I was pleased about because it has been ranked as the worst scrum in tier-one rugby.

Improved scrum

With the dust settling on the tournament, the official stats have been revealed, and they make for positive reading for Borthwick.

After ranking as the worst scrummaging tier-one side last November, the side has enjoyed a complete upswing in the statistic. 

On their put-in, England won 96.3 per cent of their scrums, 5 per cent more than the next-best tally by champions Ireland.

The set piece proved to be a weapon for Borthwick’s side, who also won four penalties on the opposition’s feed, twice as many as any other team, according to Opta Stats.

Assistant coach Richard Cockerill will have certainly played his part in the improvement, and while he will now leave the coaching staff to take up a position with Montpellier, he has laid some of the groundwork for England to build on.

Lineout is a weapon again

Meanwhile, Borthwick is also renowned for his lineout nous. We can see his fingerprints in this area of the game as England also boast the best lineout success of the Championship.

Their 92.4 per cent success rate was nearly a full four per cent better than the next-best from Italy (88.8 per cent).

Once they won lineout ball, England’s maul was a powerful weapon. The pack gained 73 metres from the maul, again the most of any team and directly resulted in three tries.

England rookie Ollie Chessum deserve huge plaudits for his efforts in improving the lineout, with the youngster claiming a team-high of 18 lineout wins, followed by Lewis Ludlam and Maro Itoje (both 16).

Equally, Jamie George played a vital role playing 393 out of a possible 400 minutes for England. No front rower played more minutes than the Saracens’ hooker, with only Itoje and Ludlam racking up more minutes this Six Nations for England – playing every minute.

Ultimately, the statistics that really matter will be just the two wins from five games and the record loss to France at Twickenham. However, there are signs that Borthwick’s charges are on an upward trajectory in crucial areas of their game.

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