Alun Carter: Forward thinking needed to restore spectacle of scoring to tournament

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The Independent Online

Exciting as it might have been, the Six Nations has thrown up some interesting, if not worrying, points for the International Rugby Board to consider.

The total number of tries is sharply down on previous years and the control of the ball by teams in possession, especially when they are in the lead, threatens to take the shine off the game as a spectacle.

Fifty tries were scored this year, the lowest ever total – down from 71 in 2005, 62 in 2006 and 69 in 2007. There has been on average one fewer try in each match.

Forwards are scoring fewer tries proportionately this season – 22 per cent (11 tries) compared to last season's 28 per cent. The better opportunities have occurred out wide, where wingers and full-backs have touched down for 54 per cent of the scores (27 tries). England finally realised this on Saturday when all three of their tries took advantage of poor Irish defending in the outside channels.

One bright point is that the scrum is still having a powerful impact on this side of the hemisphere.

The number of tries scored from scrums this year has surpassed those from the line-out. Historically, the line-out has been the greatest source of possession for try-scoring. In 2006 and 2007, 23 tries were scored from line-out possession; this year, 10.

The scrum, as a source for tries, reached double figures – 13. England's solidity in this area again proved beneficial against Ireland, with all three scores benefiting from a rock-steady scrum.

Teams have shown fascinating traits. The two teams at either end of the table could not be more different in their scoring profile. All six tries scored by Italy came from just one phase – two from driving line-outs, two from interceptions, one charge-down and one penalty try. No tries were created by their attack.

Wales scored over half of their tries (seven) from five phases or more, probing for mismatches and allowing Shane Williams to dance his way past defenders.

Alun Carter was head of match analysis for the Wales team from 1998 to 2007 and technical assistant to Graham Henry on the 2001 Lions tour of Australia.

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