ChrisS

Looking at the numbers


Written by Chris Smith (ChrisS)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2015, Springboks on 22 Oct 2015 at 10:27
Tagged with : , , ,

A lot has been said about Schalk Burger’s 26 carries in the game against Wales and how he was deserving of his Man-of-the-Match Award because of his tireless energy. He made 26 carries for 55m as well as chipping in with 16 tackles. This is a phenomenal effort and shows just how much “The Incredible Schalk” means to the Boks.

The flip-side of the coin is that Burger only got across the gainline 11 times! This is a less than 50% return from his carries and raises a lot of questions. Is Schalk an ineffective ball carrier? Are the Boks “selling him” and giving him man and ball situations?

I think the answer lies in the tactics that the Boks employ. Looking at the Stormers this season, Schalk was often used to draw in defenders before passing the ball to the backline. He has great hands and his sheer physical presence is enough to make the opposition commit at least two players to him which opens up space elsewhere. The Boks on the other hand are committed to a more “stampkar” type of rugby where wave after wave of forwards takes it up off the scrumhalf. It is easy to defend against as the Boks’ opponents just line up two or three hefty specimens one space off the ruck and pulverize anything that comes down that channel…and it almost always comes down that channel!

The All Blacks, Irish and Australians have a slight variation on this tactic (more in keeping with the Stormers’ strategy) of passing the ball to an angled runner just before contact which effectively puts the ball carrier into the space that his passing team mate has just created by taking the tackle. The other variation is that they make play occur off the flyhalf. All three of those teams use the diamond formation when taking the ball up. This gives them three options:

An inside pass
A flat pass (crash ball option), or
A pass to the player running behind them who then links with the rest of the backline.

The benefit of playing the ball off the flyhalf is that it is less predictable and there are always two dummy runners to draw the attention of the defenders.

Schalk has been amazing this World Cup in terms of his commitment to the Bok cause but how much more effective could he have been if we varied our tactics slightly and created space for him to punch holes through instead of expecting him to run into a brick wall phase after phase?



34 Comments

  • Rob you hit the nail on the head, I have said this to so many people, yes his commitment and passion cannot be questioned, but in my eyes with all that possession he has been very ineffective.

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.10.15 10:30:28 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Good summary i think. I feel how the Boks are using Burger would be more effective is there was another option off every ruck etc not just him. So if for example Burger lined up on the left of a ruck with LeRoux and Kriel outside him and on the right of the ruck was Pollard with DeAllende then there are options so defenses cannot fully commit to the Burger option.

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.10.15 10:39:07 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 1) : Don’t think Rob had much to do with this nail ;-)

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.10.15 10:39:21 by Die Kriek Reply

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  • Schalk has come in for a lot of criticism this world cup but I’m sure it isn’t his choice to stand in at flyhalf. I think his off load game has come a long way and we should really make better use of this. Lets face it most often our opposition don’t expect it, on the flip side most often we don’t expect the off load either. But agree completely with theabove.

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.10.15 10:39:36 by Hulk Reply

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  • @Die Kriek (Comment 3) : :mrgreen: oops
    Sorry khudos to Chris

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.10.15 10:41:14 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Exactly what I’ve been saying. What the hell is Schalk doing in the flyhalf channel the whole time? It looks impressive when you’ve had 20+ carries, but if you look deeper, as Chris has done here, you see that those carries were very ineffective. And it is so predictable! he catches the ball, runs 1m and gets tackled by 2 okes who were waiting for him. get up and repeat another 20 times

    If HM had more than 2 peanuts between his ears, he would spring a few surprises against the AB’s this weekend. Have the forwards in their usual position of waiting for the ball, but then try something different! A pass behind them to a back, a sniping run by the scrummie, anything that’ll catch them off guard!

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.10.15 10:53:02 by Leeubok Reply

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  • @sharks_lover (Comment 1) : @Die Kriek (Comment 3) : @sharks_lover (Comment 5) : I’ll happily borrow Rob’s name for this one :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Glad you think the article is up to the required “Rob” standard :lol:

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.10.15 10:54:01 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @ChrisS (Comment 7) : :lol:

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.10.15 10:54:34 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • Nice one Chris!

  • Comment 9, posted at 22.10.15 10:55:27 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Leeubok (Comment 6) : That’s exactly what I was thinking.

    The sad state of Bok rugby was summed up against Wales when the Boks did a move. My friends, who I don’t chat rugby with, all got excited and a few were saying

    “Oh my word! We did a move!”

    You know that the state of your rugby is bad when fans get excited by a backline move that Georgia, the USA, Canada, Romania, Uruguay and Scotland have been doing all World Cup long. I’m not even mentioning the traditional big teams as you expect creativity from them.

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.10.15 10:57:41 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 9) : Thanks. It struck me on Saturday when they mentioned his stats.

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.10.15 10:58:34 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @Hulk (Comment 4) : He was far more effective when allowed to be creative at the Stormers.

    Jacques Potgieter mentioned in a few articles that he loved his time with the Waratahs because he wasn’t expected to run into a brick wall every game and he was allowed to pass.

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.10.15 10:59:56 by ChrisS Reply
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  • I was watching one of those Bok Tales programs on tv the other day. Duane was on and perhaps I got it wrong, but I’m sure he said he’s not allowed to offload in the tackle, and that little offload he did to Fourie was against the coach’s instructions.

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.10.15 11:03:08 by Leeubok Reply

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  • @Leeubok (Comment 13) : And yet a lot of articles said that it was a planned move :???:

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.10.15 11:08:23 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @Die Kriek (Comment 3) : I am the Nailfather! I own ALL the nails

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.10.15 11:09:22 by robdylan Reply
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  • @ChrisS (Comment 14) : ja I dunno hey. I think in general the instruction from HM is don’t try and offload in the tackle, rather go to ground. Which in my mind is really dumb rugby.

  • Comment 16, posted at 22.10.15 11:09:54 by Leeubok Reply

    LeeubokVodacom Cup player
     
  • @sharks_lover (Comment 5) : how’bot that ever elusive kudos?

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.10.15 11:10:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : Which begs the question who owns the hammer? :shock:

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.10.15 11:19:39 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 18) : The wife always owns the hammer!!!! :grin:

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.10.15 11:29:24 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @Leeubok (Comment 16) : I agree with you 100%.

    Successful teams keep the ball off the ground and, if they do take it to ground, they protect it and get it away quickly. Against McCaw / Cane or Pockock / Hooper it’s rugby suicide to go to ground.

  • Comment 20, posted at 22.10.15 11:31:07 by ChrisS Reply
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  • The diamond formation – such a simple effective concept, and yet something the Boks (or the Sharks) just don’t use.

  • Comment 21, posted at 22.10.15 12:48:46 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Thanks Chris. Makes a lot of sense.

  • Comment 22, posted at 22.10.15 13:04:13 by Ben Reply
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  • @Leeubok (Comment 6) : “If HM had more than 2 peanuts between his ears”

    That’s a very big ‘if’.

  • Comment 23, posted at 22.10.15 13:05:47 by Ben Reply
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  • I have a feeling we will see a lot more this week. It’s hard to imagine that the Boks have played all their cards before now. I have been lucky enough to be at the last 2 Bok matches and I’m even luckier to be going again this weekend. There was a serious drop in creativity between the USA game and the Welsh game, even considering quality of opposition. The Boks will have it in them to make more happen this week. Earlier in the year we were using Schalk as that link player, and we still are, we have just stopped using it as much.

  • Comment 24, posted at 22.10.15 13:11:58 by David12246 Reply

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  • I reckon they’ll do us proud. They have been training at the Sports Park at my university. Generally they look reasonably calm. It seems like there is a healthy mindset going into this game.

  • Comment 25, posted at 22.10.15 13:13:10 by David12246 Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 21) : I wish I knew why we don’t use it. It creates that little bit of doubt which draws defenders away.

  • Comment 26, posted at 22.10.15 13:24:30 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 22) : My pleasure.

  • Comment 27, posted at 22.10.15 13:26:11 by ChrisS Reply
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  • Yes SB is playing out of his skin,but he has never ever ran the gap or space and never will,loses the ball in contact by knock on or turnover and against large oppostion is a liability ,just ask Frans Steyn about the 2011 WC and his attempting to pull large units off SB

  • Comment 28, posted at 22.10.15 17:09:49 by benji Reply
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  • I believe that the way Schalk is being used by HM is also the reason we have seen Alberts relegated to the bench. Schalk is taking the ball very deep, literally in the FH channel and often without other forwards for support, so when he does run he is often caught behind the gain line. I really don’t understand this tactic, by all means, use Schalk with a pod of forwards much flatter than he is taking the ball and let him offload that way, leave the 10 in the FH channel. It is so predictable currently, and is probably a result of HM trying to protect the inexperienced Pollard at 10 a little bit. Alberts could never play as deep as Schalk, so does not fit in HM’s gameplan, hence we see Alberts come on for Flouw instead of Schalk.

  • Comment 29, posted at 22.10.15 17:52:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • Besides not making the gain line the depth and slowness of progress also ensures the ball never makes the wings and if by chance it makes the flyhalf the pressure is massive and any resulting kick is either less effective or a completely aimless excersize that concedes posession. And with all that pressure suddenly in midfield your fullback has also got undue pressures. With a guy like Willie you run the risk of him doing something desperate and losing his unpredictable attack. What’s the use of any x-factors if you kill their element of surprise.

  • Comment 30, posted at 23.10.15 07:46:09 by coolfusion Reply

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  • Forgot to add good article Chris

  • Comment 31, posted at 23.10.15 08:45:41 by benji Reply
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  • @coolfusion (Comment 30) : Shhh, you’re giving away Heyneke’s ‘gameplan’!!!

  • Comment 32, posted at 23.10.15 09:35:18 by StevieS Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 29) : Good points. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Comment 33, posted at 23.10.15 09:36:25 by StevieS Reply
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  • @benji (Comment 31) : Thanks, Benji :grin:

  • Comment 34, posted at 23.10.15 11:37:15 by ChrisS Reply
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