The correct reading of the Laws this year by referees has changed the game a lot in one year, and the one Law that is putting teams under pressure the most is the correct reading of the off side law when players kick the ball. Below I’ll try and explain why the fullback must not kick up and unders.
Above we see a typical set up when the fullback collects the ball and kicks. The orange circle the kicker, blue circles are the team mates on side and the red circles represent the players offside. The green cross is where the ball will land and all team mates in the vicinity (it is usually more than ten meters, as where the ball is going to land is uncertain until it does) of where the ball will land have to retreat. All the other off side team mates have to remain still until put on side by either the kicker or either of the two onside (blue) team mates. As we have seen in the past four games Stefan gets the ball and kicks an up and under. Usually JP and Odwa are at the back with him. Odwa hangs back, to be in place for a ball that is returned, Stefan runs up field to try and recover the ball he kicked (so far he has been unsuccessful in every attempt) and JP…I’ve yet to work out what he does. Last year the Sharks’ players ahead of Stefan organised themselves into a defensive wall. However this year no-one is allowed to move (other than the players retreating out of the ten meter zone) until Stefan has passed them. This has left the Sharks defence full of holes allowing opposition to break right back into Sharks territory, and in the Cheetahs game it allowed their fullback to waltz all the way to the try line.
Now above is a typical setup of a scrum or lineout with the backline in place. Here the damage of an up and under is minimal as if the flyhalf kicks as above, he as enough on side players to defend and the forward momentum of the backline will put the rest of the players on side before the ball lands. So other than the possibility of losing possession, the chance of the opposition breaking the defence is minimal.
So basically the above diagrams show that kicking isn’t all bad, but it is suicidal if it is a full back kicking. So what option does the full back have? One if he has to kick, it has to be out and as far up field as possible, as he is handing possession over to the opposition. Or the best option, that Daniller used well on Saturday, is running the ball into the thick of your team mates and setting up good attacking ball. The logic is basic, if you are pegged in your half by the opposition, make sure you have the ball and support around you.Tweet