Wayne Smith explains how England ended the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup hopes
Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith has pinpointed the strategy that cost New Zealand the chance of winning a third consecutive Rugby World Cup.
Smith says a tactic which worked well for the All Blacks in their commanding win over Ireland in the cup quarterfinal was countered by England in the semifinal that killed of their hopes of winning the cup again.
"Essentially from what I understand – I'm not close to the environment any more – and through reading and looking at stuff, that plan of having two All Black forwards standing up flat and then passing way behind them to the 10 who then played wide, was put together for teams like Ireland rushing up, and gave them the chance to outflank them," Smith told Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB.
"Those two forwards are the players you generally rely on to keep the ball alive in the tackle. They would take the offload or make the cleanout to give you the lightning-quick ball you are after."
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"But because they were 10 metres ahead of the attack they were late arriving to all those breakdowns. It gave us slow ball and didn't really give us a chance to keep the ball alive. It probably was the reason we lost so convincingly," Smith told Newstalk ZB.
Smith, who played a key part as an assistant coach in the All Blacks' successful 2011 and 2015 World Cup campaigns, said England assistant coach (and former All Blacks coach) John Mitchell devised a counter to the All Blacks' strategy against Ireland
"(He) had their defence numbering up from the outside so rather than rolling the dice and everyone rushing in to make the tackles, generally - although not all the time – they had that outside man marked."
"It took away the cross-field kick and our ability to pass over the top, which put us in trouble. We didn't have any solutions to it and kept getting smacked behind the lines."
The All Blacks weren't able to change to Plan B after the halftime break, Smith told Devlin.