Are the days of stifling rush defences limited in rugby?

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Former All Black and Samoan international and Blues Super Rugby coach Pat Lam believes new-found attacking confidence among British teams may have taken the sting out of the concentration on defence in rugby.


Bristol's director of rugby, Lam, told The Rugby Paper the trend among rugby coaches and the halfbacks who direct their game plans towards more attacking play could be seen in the tries scored in the early stages of the English season.


In the third round of the Premiership 56 tries were scored, and while the best three teams, Bristol, Exeter and Leicester, averaged 33 points per game, they were also conceding 25.


Lam believes that the lift in attacking play would have dividends at the international level for England.


"Everyone wants to make sure the defence is good, and once defence gets on top then any good coaching team is constantly looking at ways to break it…But I think the biggest thing is attitude, and that's what's really pleasing, and that's why the Premiership is humming."


Lam said the halfbacks and first five-eighths across the competition had contributed to the changed approach.


"The 9-10 combination, which is usually your generals running the game, is a reflection of the coaching staff and what they want. I believe we're seeing a positive trend in the game.


"The defence coaches are pulling their hair out right now…It's great for the game – you don't want one area dominating for the whole of the time," he said.


Gloucestershire boss George Skivington backed Lam's comments.


He said: "Every team has come out wanting to play rugby this season. Most coaches want to challenge themselves to see if they can build the complete game.


"There have been massive breakaway leads, and then teams have swung right back into it.


"I think it's really positive, there's a real emphasis on playing rugby at the moment. You need good coaches who are willing to push the boundaries a little bit and challenge lads' skillsets and approach to the game."  


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