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QBE Risk & Reward Index shows why this year’s Six Nations will be an attacking fest for fans

By Sandra Villanueva
Senior Media Relations Manager

Data from QBE’s unique Risk and Reward Index has uncovered the blueprint that teams competing in the Six Nations championship will adopt.

Data compiled by business insurance specialist QBE comparing the 2021 Six Nations and the 2021 Autumn Nation Series has demonstrated that teams will adopt a new attacking strategy, with less kicking, more passing and playing more with the ball in hand. This change in strategy led to England winning all three games in the Autumn series compared to only two games out of five in the 2021 Six Nations. This follows the introduction of law changes in the Summer for 50/22 kicks and goal line drop-outs.

Interrogation of the data shows for example, in the 2021 Calcutta Cup fixture, England kicked more often (18.6%) and only maintained 38% possession, compared to the post law-change Autumn Nations Series match against Australia, where England kicked less (12.7%) and maintained 60% possession. The additional possession meant 126 passes compared to 85, five line-breaks compared to zero, and England scoring 32 points instead of six – and a vastly different match in style and substance.

Lawrence Dallaglio, QBE Ambassador comments: “We are beginning to see an end to the dull cycle of rugby with lots of kicking, defensive tactics, and a lack of expansive attacking play. In the Autumn Nations Series, teams shifted from a kick-chase game and relying on their defence to see them to victory to a more attacking gameplan. We’ve also seen this shift in the club game with several close and dramatic Premiership matches already this season. We are building towards the World Cup in around 18 months’ time; strategy and personnel decisions made now will likely continue into that tournament with teams showing their hand in this 2022 Six Nations Championship.”

The QBE Risk & Reward Index also highlights the growing importance of the creative playmaker with this new attacking strategy. Playmakers such as Marcus Smith and Finn Russell now have more space on the pitch in which to show their creativity and attacking flair, owing to the 50/22 rule, which is intended to create space via a tactical choice for players to drop out of the defensive line. Marcus Smith kicked the ball for England against Australia much less than his predecessor George Ford against Scotland, choosing to run and pass instead. In the 2020 Calcutta Cup fixture, England kicked away over a quarter of all their possession employing a defensive and risk averse strategy previously favoured by Eddie Jones. Jones has since admitted that there has been a “rebalancing of the global game”. With the start of the Six Nations Championship this weekend, all the Six Nations teams are likely to play this more expansive and attacking style of rugby, through the hands rather than relying on the boot.

Emily Scarratt, QBE Ambassador adds “In last year’s Six Nations, Wales won the championship with a strategy predicated on playing without the ball and making as few errors as possible – on average they had less possession and territory than their opponents and conceded the fewest turnovers. Teams are now willing to carry and pass more and those who had success in the Autumn Nations Series held on to the ball more than their opponents and were unafraid of making errors – they went out to win the game rather than not to lose, thinking that the rewards outweigh the risks. I believe this trend is set to continue in this year’s championship and the fans will benefit from more attacking rugby across the board.”

This Six Nations Championship will see teams attempt to balance their defensive risks; they must either drop additional defenders into the backfield, leaving space for the creative fly halves to exploit, or maintain a full defensive line and risk losing territory and possession to a successful 50/22 kick. Teams will also have to be more clinical when going for the try line, with goal line drop-outs replacing 5-metre scrums for attacking teams held up over the line. As a result, teams scoring when in the opposition 22 (red zone efficiency) will be more important than ever – the QBE Risk & Reward Index showed that ten out of the 15 matches (67%) in last year’s Championship were won by the team with superior red zone efficiency.

For further information contact:
• Sandra Villanueva, Corporate Communications, QBE, 020 7105 5284,
• Charlie Bohan-Hurst, Jefferson Communications, 07847 015225,

About QBE
QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.
QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2020 was US$14.7 billion.
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