Skinny Guardian

7 December 2020, 22:00 (UTC), 421 words. Robert Kitson.

England's George Ford: 'Kicking is part of giving us best chance to win'

England’s unpopular kicking strategy has been defended by the fly-half George Ford who says he and his side are simply doing what it takes to be successful under rugby’s current laws.

Eddie Jones, the England coach, believes criticism of the tactic is “disrespectful” to the players and Ford also rejects the theory it makes the game less interesting. According to Ford, the Autumn Nations Cup final victory against France on Sunday is further evidence of England’s approach bearing fruit, despite widespread public scepticism.

“We understand where the game is at and what we need to do to try and win games,” the Leicester fly-half said. “Ultimately, that’s probably why we’ve won a few games recently. People are entitled to their opinion, but we’re the guys that run out on the field and we want to give ourselves the best chance of winning. We believe that’s the best way to do it.”

Like Jones, Ford is adamant kicking is not boring if it is done effectively. “I know it can be frustrating for people watching but it’s fascinating in the sense it’s a game of patience. There’s a lot of information, composure and control needed to do the right thing and then also be ready to attack at the right time as well. We had a few opportunities to move the ball and challenge France … we just need to execute a little bit better on the edges.”

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The players also do not believe excessive pragmatism risks alienating old and new fans alike. “I don’t think so, no,” Ford said. “There are still opportunities in the game to attack and score tries. People can get excited about the defensive part of the game as well. You see players like Tom Curry and Sam Underhill consistently smashing people and that’s also part of the game. It’s a big part.

“It’s just a cycle where the game is at. We want to put in a plan to make sure we win games. The young guys coming through at grassroots level want to see a successful winning England team. That’s what we need to do to put a smile on their faces.”

Ford also paid tribute to Owen Farrell, who missed four penalty attempts before slotting the winning sudden-death kick. “I had no doubt he was going to do that. To miss four – which I’m sure he’ll fix – and then step up and nail that difficult kick from the left-hand side just shows the type of guy he is. It takes some real mental strength.”