Six Nations sides ‘need new mindset’

Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett pointed to the free-flowing rugby witnessed during the final weekend of the 2015 Six Nations as an example of how northern hemisphere sides should aim to play

Six Nations sides must change their approach if they are to compete with the best in the world, says ex-Italy and South Africa coach Nick Mallett.

The 59-year-old, who missed out on the England job in 2012, was approached by the RFU after the World Cup in 2015.

No European side made the semi-finals of the World Cup, with New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina reaching the last four.

“I think it is a mindset thing,” said South African Mallett.

“Teams will have learned after the World Cup that in order to win major events, you have to be very effective in attack,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Why do Six Nations teams lag behind?

“In the final game of the Six Nations last year, when teams were forced to score points to win the competition, we saw three absolutely brilliant games [featuring 27 tries], which weren’t replicated in the World Cup by any of the northern hemisphere teams.”

“Four years away from a World Cup, [you need] to develop a game plan to match New Zealand, Australia or Argentina going into 2019,” he said.

Mallett, a former Springbok international, coached South Africa to a record-breaking run of victories in 1998, and was in charge of Italy from 2007 to 2011.

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Six Nations 2015: Wales 23-16 Ireland Highlights

He is working as a rugby statistical analyst with Accenture during the Six Nations, and the numbers from last season’s championship are revealing. In the Wales against Ireland match in Cardiff, Ireland carried a substantial 415 metres, but only scored 16 points. This is a problem that needs addressing, according to Mallett.

“You have to create try-scoring opportunities, which northern hemisphere teams haven’t done,” he said.

“Ireland against Wales in the Six Nations last year, I remember clearly a period when Ireland hammered away around the fringes with their wide players completely and utterly unmarked. You would never see New Zealand making that mistake.”

However, Mallett does feel northern hemisphere sides have the potential to match their southern counterparts.

“Weather really makes a massive difference to how you play the game, but if you go in with a positive intent – as all the teams did on the final weekend of the Six Nations last year – then we can see northern hemisphere sides playing the same style as southern hemisphere teams, and being more of a challenge to those teams at the next World Cup.”

Mallett was beaten to the England job by Stuart Lancaster in 2012, and was again approached by the RFU before Eddie Jones was appointed as Lancaster’s successor.

Mallett continued: “The RFU chose Stuart Lancaster for very good reasons, they felt he understood England and understood the team and they wanted to give an England coach an opportunity.

“I’ve said all along I would have loved to have had the opportunity because I had [former All Blacks coach] Wayne Smith who was keen to do it with me.”

With Smith currently taking a sabbatical from coaching, Mallett declared himself unavailable this time round, with Eddie Jones appointed to the role in November.

“It’s interesting to see now how England went quickly for an experienced international coach,” Mallett added.

Mallett coached South Africa from 1997 to 2000, winning 27 of his 38 Tests

“I think he will do well, he’s certainly entertaining. Eddie Jones has had success, but he’s also had poor stints. Every coach has his ups and downs and there are no guarantees.”

However, the South African believes England will finally be crowned Six Nations champions in 2016, if they can prevail at Murrayfield on the opening weekend.

“If England beat Scotland, they have Italy and then two games at home. I’m predicting England will be the strongest side, because of the draw and the enthusiasm which a new captain and coach brings,” he said.

Hear more from Nick Mallett on 5 live Sport’s Six Nations preview, Thursday evening from 19:00 GMT.

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