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Shaun Edwards thinks modern day international teams are more attack-minded

Published 15/11/2016

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards has reflected on rugby's changing landscape
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards has reflected on rugby's changing landscape

Shaun Edwards believes that the international rugby landscape is changing from a defence coach's perspective.

And Wales' defensive mastermind feels that a time when teams went long periods without conceding a try - especially over a number of games - are gone.

Edwards, though, says it is "not a bad thing" that try-scoring and attacking prowess currently feature prominently on Test rugby's agenda.

"In the modern game, with so many tries being scored, if you can keep a team to 20 points and under there is a pretty good chance you are going to win the game," he said.

"I think the days of going four and a half games without conceding a try, or conceding just two in a Six Nations campaign (as Wales did under Edwards in 2008), are long gone now.

"Tries are being scored everywhere. Ireland conceded four against the All Blacks (10 days ago) and still won the game. It is just where the game is at and that's not a bad thing."

Wales, though, still showed the importance of strong defensive work by restricting Argentina to just two tries in last Saturday's Principality Stadium clash, which proved a vastly-improved display on their drubbing by Australia seven days earlier.

"I thought the players in the build-up (to Argentina) prioritised the defence," Edwards added, reflecting on a 24-20 victory.

"I was a little bit disappointed in the build-up at times to Australia. I was listening to team meetings and a lot of people were talking about attack - attack this, attack that. It ended up that we only had the ball for 20 per cent of the time in the first half (against Australia).

"I let them know in the build-up that I thought every player had to prioritise the defence a lot more against Argentina and I thought they did that, and it showed in the performance.

"You never want to concede tries. The last one (scored by Argentina), when I looked at it, we lined up wrong at the initial scrum and it gave them the field position close to our line. We were basically stood in the wrong place - it was not what we had practised.

"We have had a few harsh words about that and I would like to think it won't be happening again.

"But to only concede 20 points in a Test match against a southern hemisphere opponent who have been running in tries in the Rugby Championship, you should get a win if you are conceding 17 to 20 points."

Next up for Wales are Japan at the Principality Stadium in four days' time, with the Japanese arriving in Cardiff following a hard-fought victory over Georgia in Tbilisi.

When the countries last met three years ago, Japan won 23-8 in Tokyo, although Wales' list of absentees ran into double figures on that occasion as the two-Test trip coincided with the British and Irish Lions' Australia tour.

"It was a tough day at the office, but you have got to remember it was a very young Welsh team," Edwards said. "I think we had 16 or 17 players on the Lions tour.

"It showed what potential Japan had, which they showed at the (2015) World Cup. I think that was the starting point for them.

"Japan were definitely superior on that day, but obviously we want to reverse that on Saturday. We respect our opponents and particularly one that has just gone to Georgia and won.

"Georgia had a huge percentage of possession (last Saturday) and Japan defended extremely well. Their counter-attack was magnificent - they've got some real speed in the backs - and any turnover ball, in particular, we have got to be very careful.

"They are also very apt at picking up intercepts, so it's almost that unstructured style of play which Japan will try to thrive off on Saturday."

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