If there has been one thing about the 2010 season, especially after the Super 14, it has been how successful the more expansive and possession-orientated teams have been.
This, in my view, is a fantastic development and should serve the purpose of getting more people watching rugby and enjoying more of a running game. Evidence of this is the Tri Nations where last year the Boks were unstoppable with their kick and chase game but were criticised by everyone other than South Africans for their boring play, contrasted to that is the All Blacks being the dominant team of the 2010 Tri Nations running the ball more and pretty much universally getting praised for their approach the game.
What has also been good from a Sharks perspective is the shift in focus from the Sharks to a more possession-orientated and running rugby as opposed to the kick and chase style which did not achieve as much as what it was expected to. It is nice to see the Sharks playing with the ball in hand more especially since that has been the Natal style since way back when. My dad has told me stories of him playing fullback at school in Durban and knowing that he was not allowed to kick at all or else he would get caned for it. Maybe we should not go to those extremes but it is nonetheless good to see the guys keeping the ball.
This style of play does suit the new laws and it would be in the interest of other South African teams to follow suit and change their style of play to this new brand. It doesn’t mean there is no focus on defense or that you have to throw the ball around for no good reason, simply put you need to keep hold of the ball. I am in no way saying teams like the Bulls are obsolete now, especially as they have a way of surprising everyone whenever they are written off and anyway, they look all the more dangerous when they keep the ball in hand as well.
So, here I sit as a happy fan enjoying a brand of rugby that has the players keeping the ball in hand and hoping that this is not a passing fad but rather a meaningful change in the rugby landscape.Tweet