Morné

Boks still getting it wrong


Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 29 Jul 2009 at 12:19

As great as our boys were against the All Blacks in Bloemfontein, we are still getting some vital things wrong. Something I hope I will see a change in when we move towards the Durban test.

It is a topic I highlighted just after Peter de Villiers was appointed as Bok coach and one I felt the need to re-visit after the Bloem test.

For all the dominance and effectiveness of the Springboks in last weekend’s test one very worrying aspect again reared its head. The Springboks given all their dominance and possession, still seemed impotent on attack and my explanation for that now, is exactly my what my explanation was a year ago – SA rugby players fail to build momentum and pace on the ball or more crucially, fail to maintain it.

One can look at areas of our attacking play and single out potential problems as the crux of where we get things wrong. For instance we can argue that we run too laterally in the flyhalf and inside center channels, we lack depth on attack, or we clear the ball too slowly from set and ruck phases.

All of this of course are reasons we are getting the overall plan wrong which is to play effective attacking rugby, but all of this comes down to two very simple things – or areas where all the above mentioned (and other problems) start which leads to situations where we run across the field or have no depth on attack.

Let me start with the two aspects which is needed to play effective and explosive attacking rugby and they are the decision making ability of the players, and the ability of the players to keep the plays dynamic and avoid them from becoming static.

Both influence one another of course, for instance if you make the wrong decisions your plays will become static, and if you allow play to become static, decision making becomes more difficult or erratic.

Players (and coaches) need to understand that by keeping plays dynamic things like maintaining pace and momentum on the ball will come naturally, and that will make decision making easier. It is a circle where without one, the other will fail.

So how do we define decision making in rugby?

Decision making in my books is not the ‘godly’ ability of one player to do the impossible or the abilities of some superhuman players who has so many X-factors it puts the X-files to shame.

No, effective decision making in rugby is the ability of the TEAM or each individual in the team to read the game tactically, and plan accordingly (strategically) as a COLLECTIVE.

If you want an even simpler definition you could say it would be the ability of each player to read and predict the actions of not only the opposition defenders based on what he sees, but also predict the actions of his own team mates whether that would be the ball carrier or support player because of what they see (which is the same as what he sees).

It is getting the players to sing from the same hymn sheet, to get them to develop a common code amongst one another where they all play and think from the same platform, or base, or reference point.

Is that possible?

Of course it is, and it starts with how players are coached.

The only way players will be able to make effective decisions in a game environment, at game speed, is if they are given the tools and skills through coaching on the practice field in a game-environment and game speed. This means full contact training sessions where these skills are developed and refined and players are taught to read certain situations and then act on them strategically.

One such method I have read about is to have up to four coaches, all looking at specific areas of play, to oversee a full contact training session of 15 vs. 15. If anything breaks down or mistakes are picked up the coaches and players analyse this and corrects this. Of course you can break this down to having forwards against forwards, backs vs. back or specific groups with specific numbers, either the same or different numbers on attack and defense.

The point really being to equip and condition players to not only read the game better, but support the ball carriers better either as cleaners, continuity recycling or support runners because they read situations better and are able to correctly assess situations and predict what the best course of action would be, for either a ball carrier, or support player.

An example would be that if a player sees a spread defense, they are conditioned to employ a penetration type of attack, i.e. a more direct line of attack to penetrate defense or get across the gain line through either running, mauling or rucking (pick and go) or even kicks. The point (in every player’s mind) will be to bunch up defences and as soon as a defense is bunched, you know the best point of attack would be wide where there is space.

The second part of this now comes down to ensuring that through this decision making you create and maintain momentum and pace on the ball, and this comes down to keeping your game and plays dynamic.

There is one major area which contributes to our plays becoming static where we lose pace on the ball and that is the fact that firstly players are coached to go to ground quite quickly and secondly, support players are tasked to clean rucks rather than support tackled players, effectively going to ground with them.

A moving ball, a ball in the air is a dynamic ball, a ball on the ground is a static ball. Quite simple really.

Firstly our ball carriers should be coached to remain on their feet for far longer than what they currently do, and secondly the first support players should be coached or instructed to support the ball carrier to remain on his feet almost creating a mini maul. A maul is a dynamic, moving area of rugby where defences are constantly shifted backwards or forced to keep on moving.

Once the ball eventually goes to ground or is played from the back by the scrummy it is done with movement still taking place, forward for the attacking team and backwards for the defending team. More importantly the ball never becomes static which allows for defences to form static defensive lines which is much more effective than shifting defensive lines.

The result, momentum is built, kept and through that, speed is generated on the ball not only through passing, but also through phases and rucks, or for a better word, dynamic rucks…

If this is maintained the end result will most definitely be that defensive lines will break down, gaps will appear, your team’s players will constantly attack from depth (they are constantly moving forward onto the ball) and because of that will be inclined to run much straighter lines (running onto the ball at pace).

You see, it will take care of 90% of the problems I mentioned in the beginning of this article on problems we pick up, scrummies taking too long to clear (ball is static in the ruck), people running across the field and flat attacking structures.

I think it should also become much clearer now how this will positively affect decision making abilities of players and how both aspects or skills of the game needs one another, to cancel out many other problem areas.

We know our coaches subscribe to a more open, attacking style of rugby – the question is, what are they doing on the practice fields?



44 Comments

  • Any win against the mighty AB’s is a great win, but I must admit that I didn’t feel completely satisfied. From my laymans view( cause I don’t analise the game like some of the bloggers on this site) I also noticed that a lot of opportuinities were lost either to lack of vision or the incorrect gameplan.

    One example is Juan Smith. I was highly frustrated with him during the game because he never passed the ball( ok he passed the ball once to Jaque Fouries when he scored the try.)

    I’m not sure if the instructions where for him to ‘bang it up’ and set up phases and he stuck to the instructions, but there were a few times where overlaps have already been created and it just needed a couple of quick passes to create some space for the wingers. I surprised JJP and Habana didn’t freez to death in Bloem on Saturday cause they never saw the ball.

    Now we get back to the whole debate regarding structure and playing whats in front of you and I think that it should be a combination of the two.

  • Comment 1, posted at 29.07.09 13:39:07 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Morne for next Bok coach.

  • Comment 2, posted at 29.07.09 13:44:18 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : gets my vote

  • Comment 3, posted at 29.07.09 13:58:29 by robdylan Reply
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  • Morne, the Sharksworld okes are obviously too lazy to read, that is why the comments are so slow. Well written article by the way.

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.07.09 15:03:47 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : I’ll second :razz:

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.07.09 15:15:01 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 4) :

    Maybe he must to it in “Episodes”…;-)

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.07.09 15:16:21 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 2) : If you can’t get the coaching job, how about technical director?? :wink:

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.07.09 15:20:25 by Pokkel Reply
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  • It IS a very long article. I’m close to finishing the 5th paragraph.

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.07.09 15:20:53 by molly Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 6) : with subtitles in ‘Die moedertaal’

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.07.09 15:21:26 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 9) :

    :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.07.09 15:26:50 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • Anyone got a summary for me? :razz:

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.07.09 15:32:46 by Just a Fan Reply

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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 6) : :mrgreen:

    @molly (Comment 8) : C’mon people – let’s help develop culture of reading :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.07.09 15:32:56 by rekinek Reply
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  • Morne(correct me if I’m wrong)The teams are always looking to create the overlap through building phases and sucking in defenders, but I’ve noticed that often the most effective linebreaks in rugby is right on the shoulder of the player that is about to pass and this doesn’t seem to be utilised often enough. We often make use of long skip passes to create the overlap but seldom use the short pop-up pass effectively. They worked beautifully in the 2nd BIL test with both Habana and JJP’s tries. Have the better defences closed that gap or are we not using it enough??

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.07.09 15:36:00 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 11) :

    pass it on to me!!

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.07.09 15:36:15 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 9) :
    1.

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.07.09 15:36:30 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 13) :

    F%$% Me!! Are you trying to sound intelligent!!?? :twisted:

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.07.09 15:37:56 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 15) : i do not know what happened here :oops:

    @Just a Fan (Comment 11) :
    1. coaches got it wrong
    2. All – I repeat – ALL players need to think :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.07.09 15:38:24 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 13) : The other thing that bothers me is that our players tend to try and run over defenders instead of running into gaps(ala Juan Smith) Surely you built more momentum being tackled in the gap at an angle that bashing straight into someone and it probably frees your hands and its easier to get rid of the ball. Also running into the gap might cause you to draw 2 defenders instead of one.

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.07.09 15:42:01 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 18) :

    Geez – but you ARE on a Roll!!

  • Comment 19, posted at 29.07.09 15:43:40 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 16) : Ek probeer nie..ek is intelligent. Maar ek is omsingel met al die dames op die site en sukkel om n gesprek aan die gang te kry. :roll: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 29.07.09 15:44:08 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 19) :

    Can you NOW see why your hubby was invited to this Saturday’s game?? :twisted:

  • Comment 21, posted at 29.07.09 15:46:21 by wpw Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 21) : :twisted: :cool:

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.07.09 15:47:23 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 20) :

    Dan’s jy nie SOintelligent nie – praat ‘boudjies” en ‘six packs” – glo my DAN sal jy ‘n gesprek aan die gang kry!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.07.09 15:47:33 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 19) : Ek is moeg vir kak praat en wil nou rugby praat :evil:

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.07.09 15:48:28 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 21) :

    Yes! So HE can also learn to understand “the game”… :lol:

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.07.09 15:49:51 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 24) :

    Good Luck met DAAI een….;-)

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.07.09 15:51:27 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 13) :

    It all comes down to decision making again, and the ability to read the plays and strategies accordingly.

    For instance, a lot of times people reckon a player is ineffective because he can’t get his outside backs into space, however, creating and hitting gaps has as much to do with the ball carrier, and ball receiver playing themselves into position to complete the play.

    This again is for instance both your centers as an example in play. The outside center reads the defensive lines in front of him, he knows instinctively the inside center will drift to the oustide of the opposition inside defende, dragging him across, he assesses from this that the gap will in all probability open on the outside should of his center carrying the ball, and he would then time and run into this space at the right time to receive the ball from his center in space.

    Decision making is not only limited to the ball carriers, but also the receivers.

    This whole scenario can read differently too, the center might read no gaps will open and his best role is that of a support player, cleaner etc so he changes his strategy.

    This takes lots of practice in game like situations.

    It is a skill most importantly, and it is commonly believed skills are learned and refined using about 500 hours of practice – this should give you an idea of how tough this is.

    This should also indicate that there is definately a specific structure to which players play in when they attempt this type of rugby, totally blowing away the myth that an attacking style of rugby lacks structure.

  • Comment 27, posted at 29.07.09 15:53:37 by Morné Reply
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  • Decision making is not only limited to the ball carriers, but also the receivers…hence 2. All – I repeat – ALL players need to think

  • Comment 28, posted at 29.07.09 15:57:12 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 18) :

    I am no fan of the t-bone contact game.

    This is where the ball carrier runs straight into a defender.

    If you gain an advantage through this it is more thanks to bad defending than it is because of good attacking skills.

    Most attack coaches will tell you that a player should never run INTO contact, but THROUGH contact.

    If you shift your angle of running just 0.3 meters to either side you will gain an advantage over the defender.

    For this players like Juan Smith should concentrate quite a bit on his footspeed and acceleration going into contact or contact situations.

    A common mistake coaches make is to think a player’s footspeed is how quickly he can ‘run in one place’ (leg accelaration up and down) whereas the footspeed actually refers to the pressure and power his feet hit the ground in accordance to his body position.

    Dominating contact in rugby relies on a combination of decision making (be decisive, an indecisive player loses pace going into contact), accelaration, targeted running patterns, controlled aggression and re-accelaration (out of contact).

    Correct drills in not only controlling footspeed which will increase a player’s acceleration and power going into contact and avoid lateral stepping, but also balanced running and running patterns is crucial for players like Juan.

    If you think of runners or ball carriers that continually get this wrong think of Schalk Brits.

    His footspeed is high (feet up and down), but he has no power going through contact as he steps (actually jumps like a fairy) from side to side with little forward momentum.

    Another player I would drill in this is Shane Williams from Wales. He does the same thing, lateral stepping, whereas even as small as he is works on correct footspeed and accelaration techniques could become explosive!

  • Comment 29, posted at 29.07.09 16:05:09 by Morné Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 28) :

    See you got it!!!

  • Comment 30, posted at 29.07.09 16:05:37 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 29) :

    You also have to remember that sometimes defensive lines will dictate that you employ a more direct, penetrating type of attack to gain and create momentum on attack, this is the Juan Smith ball carrying type of attack skills as mentioned above, but that too is not devoid of the decision making and momentum building which forms the base of the article.

    In order to break defenses down, you have to manipulate defenses. Bunch up defenses, and then stretch defenses. That means read, probe… read, probe… read, probe and hit.

    The speed and momentum you built will depend how quickly you will be able to hit, the more momentum and speed you build up during this process, the more gaps will open. Hitting and probing will be the process you build up this momentum and speed.

    If you lose it anywhere in the move (dropped or static ball), you have to start building again.

    You will always score against shifting defenses, you will struggly against static defenses.

  • Comment 31, posted at 29.07.09 16:09:42 by Morné Reply
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  • :shock: This Oke can talk….. :)

  • Comment 32, posted at 29.07.09 16:10:54 by Just a Fan Reply

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  • @Morné (Comment 31) :

    The Sharks make themselves very guilty of this.

    There is no momentum building on attack.

    Check against the Cheetahs and you might perhaps see what I mean.

  • Comment 33, posted at 29.07.09 16:11:07 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 30) :

    :lol:

    Don’t talk about *T-bOne* techniques here…WES is in die omtrek!!

  • Comment 34, posted at 29.07.09 16:12:42 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 32) :

    As long as it makes sense…

  • Comment 35, posted at 29.07.09 16:12:59 by Morné Reply
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  • @Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) (Comment 34) :

    :lol:

  • Comment 36, posted at 29.07.09 16:13:26 by Morné Reply
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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 32) :

    You tell me Girlfriend!! :mrgreen:

    ….en Pokkeltjie is kwaai met my… :sad:

  • Comment 37, posted at 29.07.09 16:14:33 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 21) :

    She just acts dumb.

    She goes home and to the pub and the game and teaches everyone else about the game with her audience mouths open and intimidated and buying her drinks all night!

  • Comment 38, posted at 29.07.09 16:14:36 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 38) :

    Don’t reveal my ‘get free drinks” secret to all!! :lol:

  • Comment 39, posted at 29.07.09 16:21:29 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 12) : :smile: Appropriate :mrgreen:

  • Comment 40, posted at 29.07.09 16:21:36 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • Well I am out guys. Cheers.

  • Comment 41, posted at 29.07.09 16:23:00 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 41) :

    Thanks for writing my next Pub Night” speech!! (However THIS might take some time memorising!) :wink:

    Cheers morras

  • Comment 42, posted at 29.07.09 16:24:41 by Prof. Ice (Thunder Horse) Reply
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  • I know Juan Smith is not exactly flavour of the month but he does seem to get over the advantage line almost every time. On Saturday anyway. And he is a good defender. Puts in plenty of tackles.

  • Comment 43, posted at 29.07.09 16:38:11 by McLovin Reply

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  • @McLovin (Comment 43) : I agree, Juan did a lot of defending and overall had a good game. I just get frustrated when there is clearly already an overlap and he just bashes it up again.

  • Comment 44, posted at 30.07.09 08:17:29 by Pokkel Reply
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