“Attacking rugby, but not stupid attacking rugby”

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :In the news, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 13 Jan 2015 at 11:54
Tagged with : , , ,

The Sharks website has published a very interesting interview with assistant coach Paul Anthony, in which he says a number of things that are likely to be music to the average, entertainment-starved, Sharks fan’s ears.

“It’s going to be attacking rugby, but not stupid attacking rugby,” says Anthony os the Sharks’ approach for 2015. “We’re going to put a solid blend in, no-one wants to be predictable and you want to allow the players to play what they see in front of them, to play the space and really give them license to have a go.

“If it’s on, they have a go, but our key decision-makers determine that. If they have a go and slip up trying to force the offload, we’re going to be ok with that.

“The environment makes the energy and the environment is massive at the moment which leads to positive energy and that is transferred into the way we are training. And we’re looking to take the energy and that positivity into the Super Rugby competition.

“We’re calling the energy we’re putting in ‘Buzz Lightyear’: we want to go to infinity and beyond. But obviously we need to be sensible, it’s Super Rugby, you’re up against sides with massive defensive so you don’t want to be stupid; you want to do things in the right places on the field.

“We’re putting in the right skill sets, we’ve worked hard on the skills to develop those we never had, and hopefully that will come through. Obviously there will be slip-ups, we will spill ball, we will make mistakes, but we just need to keep playing and we’ll get it right.

“We’re probably running and gymming harder than ever, but the running is replicating what we are going to be doing in the match. That’s the difference; it’s not aimless running, it’s game-directed.”

All-in-all, pretty exciting stuff! And a much-needed tonic after the staid “Jakeball” that may have won some matches, but ultimately did little to win any new fans, during 2014.


  • Hopefully this year we can start moving back in the direction of being the team in the country that plays an exciting brand of rugby that resembles that of NZ that we played years ago. Most of the teams in SA passed us in terms of great rugby to watch, but I do feel the coaches are finally getting to the point where they know just winning games by kicking and catching the ball, is not what we want to watch! Here’s to a great 2015!

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.01.15 11:59:09 by HeinF Reply
  • Yes! What music to my starved ears! It is all about the balance. Mixing the right amount of attack with defence. I believe getting those right will get you far in the comp.

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.01.15 12:05:23 by Another Nick Reply
    Another Nick
  • @HeinF (Comment 1) : The same style that still haven’t brought us a Super trophy? Being recognized as South Africa’s NZ team is cool, but not if we don’t have anything to show for it. I say win at all costs, I don’t care if its ugly each week. a win is a win. No one looks back at how you got the trophy in the cabinet.

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.01.15 12:06:40 by Uli Boelie Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • cheese lightyear 😀

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.01.15 12:10:11 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 3) : Yes win at all costs, but we need to be able to play an attacking brand of rugby, to give us a shot at getting those bonus points, which is what we need to finish in the top position and have a home final.

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.01.15 12:12:33 by Bump Reply

  • I dont mind this at all.cant wait for first game now

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.01.15 12:13:26 by Dunx Reply

  • I think the game against Toulon on the 5th will give us a good indication as to the type of rugga we will will see from the guys this year. Also like from Paul, “running replicated what we will be doing in the game. Not aimless running”. A lot of stuff that I like here..

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.01.15 12:22:46 by Another Nick Reply

    Another Nick
  • Glad to hear this, as I think it is critical that we have some entertaining rugby, and try and get the results at the same time. Results with ugly rugby like we had for the most part with JW just did not do it for me and I actually enjoyed watching some of the Lions games more.

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.01.15 12:23:50 by stevovo Reply
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  • One would hope…

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.01.15 12:38:53 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 3) : Pretty much all the champion teams in super rugby have always been in the top 4 stats as far as scoring tries (very often leading the stats). You simply cannot win a trophy if you can’t score tries.

    Smart rugby need not preclude clever kicking either. If you notice the other team’s back three struggle under the high ball, nothing wrong with raining down the high balls on them. But kicking on the likes of Ben Smith is just stupid.

    The point is you need some unpredictability to open up defenses.

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.01.15 12:48:22 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Well at least they are talking some sense! Now to wait to see how they execute. Any idea if the Toulon game will be televised?

  • Comment 11, posted at 13.01.15 12:49:49 by PTAShark Reply
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  • Lets not get carried away thinking we will run the ball. Feb and March in Durban is crazy hot and humid, running the ball in your own half can lead to many problems. We will kick to gain territory and then probably run a lot in opposition half. But dont be surprised to see lots of kicking esp at home. The running game will most likely take place away from home where there more freedom

  • Comment 12, posted at 13.01.15 12:52:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • The proof still remains firmly entrenched in the pudding. Still, I like the cut of Paul’s jib.

  • Comment 13, posted at 13.01.15 13:01:16 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 12) : I am still reserved on this point. When NZ teams come here early on they tend to score 4 tries fairly easily in Durbs. Their handling doesn’t suffer nearly as much as ours does when we play in Dbn.

  • Comment 14, posted at 13.01.15 13:11:25 by Uli Boelie Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 14) : Fair comment and im not saying this is the case but do NZ sides score 4 tries due to our handling turnovers? and do they score from running it from in their own half or running from our half?

  • Comment 15, posted at 13.01.15 13:27:17 by SheldonK Reply

  • If you train to throw the ball around you’ll be better at doing it during the games and should have the advantage, especially since teams might not be expecting it.

    If you look back you will see that Sharks teams of the past have been able to score plenty of tries at home, especially of you go back to the 2005-2008 era. We started with a young exciting team that won no matches but scored plenty of tries, but at the end of the 2005 season it was pretty clear that we would become a pretty dangerous team if we were to combine our exciting running skills with better defense and smarter tactics. It happened for us in 2007, but when we couldn’t make it past that final hurdle it seemed like we started to become more and more conservative.

    I’m hoping the team will be true to some of the comments in this article and start running the ball again. We can be a dangerous team, we have all the players needed to do so.

  • Comment 16, posted at 13.01.15 14:02:34 by Letgo Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 15) : I cant really say, never really looked at it that in depth. I think it all boils down to Balanced rugby. The word “attacking” rugby is somewhat a jinks.

  • Comment 17, posted at 13.01.15 14:24:32 by Uli Boelie Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • @vanmartin (Comment 13) : Agreed, seeing is believing. We hear good hype every year, and we get excited every year. But I think the dynamic is good here, the coaching mix is good – I like it. Brendan Venter and Gary Gold are phenomenal man managers.

  • Comment 18, posted at 13.01.15 14:35:52 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 14) : Soooo…I had a feeling that I didn’t agree with your comment at all and that you were sharing a perception and not facts. So I decided to check it out. SheldonK’s point, which you responded to, was that it’s tough to run the ball in Durban in February and March. So I checked out the stats for the last 5 seasons.
    1. In all the Sharks have played 15 games in Durban in Feb/Mar over the last 5 seasons.
    2. Of those 15, 4 have been against New Zealand teams. In those games not one New Zealand team scored a 4-try bonus point…in fact, not one of them came anywhere close (these were the number of tries: 0, 1, 2, 1)!!
    3. Of those 15, 5 have been against Aus teams. In 1 game, the Brumbies scored a bonus point (incredibly, Jake White was their coach at the time!) In all the others no Aus side came anywhere near a bonus point!!
    4. Of those 15, 6 were against SA teams. In those games not one SA team came anywhere near a bonus point!!
    5. So out of 15 Games in Feb/Mar over the course of 5 seasons, only 1 visiting team managed a bonus point in Durbs.
    6. Interestingly, in those 15 games, the Sharks managed a 4-try bonus point 4 times. So it seems that local knowledge of these tough conditions do help!!
    7. The Sharks also won 12 out of the 15 games, two of the losses coming in the disasterous start to the 2010 season.
    So it seems to me that SheldonK’s point is spot on. It is just very difficult to run the ball and score 4try bonus points in Durban during February and March. And I suspect that will never really change!

  • Comment 19, posted at 13.01.15 14:46:54 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Having said what I said in the previous comment, I really do like what I’m hearing from the management team. I’m assuming that the “no stupid attacking rugby” will be quite relevant in the first few weeks of the season in Durbs. If the Sharks get a4-try bonus point 30% of the time in Durbs in Feb/Mar, as they have in the last 5 seasons, I will be happy… 🙂

  • Comment 20, posted at 13.01.15 14:51:41 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 3) : Fair enough, but I do believe we played our most exciting brand of rugby back in 2007, which is when we should have won the title…and yes, i know, we didn’t and that’s over and done with, but if we can play that kind of attacking rugby and balance it out with some good defense, that will be our best chance of actually winning the SR 😉

  • Comment 21, posted at 13.01.15 15:01:20 by HeinF Reply

  • @pastorshark (Comment 19) : Very interesting, shot for the background info. Of those tries the Sharks scored in Feb/Mar i wonder how many were off the back of a rolling maul…i suspect a high number. The ball really does begin to become a piece of soap esp under lights. There is more than 1 way to play attacking rugby other than a free for all from under ur own posts however and i think thats what management refer to. They will look at more attacking avenues than just sitting back and hoping for turnovers.

  • Comment 22, posted at 13.01.15 15:12:06 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : Agreed…

  • Comment 23, posted at 13.01.15 15:34:14 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 19) : Dam fair comment that 😀

  • Comment 24, posted at 13.01.15 16:36:56 by Uli Boelie Reply
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    Uli Boelie
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 24) : 🙂 🙂 That’s what happens when I’m on leave and have time on my hands…

  • Comment 25, posted at 13.01.15 19:13:48 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Good to hear!!!!! Really hope it works!!!!

  • Comment 26, posted at 13.01.15 20:09:14 by JD Reply
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  • I was speaking to one of the Sharks coaches last year when they were visiting Christchurch. I said did he think that NZ and Aus teams handle and attack with the ball more than SA players due to the influence of League. He said yes, and that Dick Muir and Brendan Venter had encouraged league style type warm up games to help. He seemed to indicate that other coaches didn’t put much emphasis on this idea. Before anybody disputes this, I also might have been only listening and hearing what I wanted to hear, but this is something I have wondered about for years.

  • Comment 27, posted at 13.01.15 20:45:25 by Dynamite Reply

  • This time feels very different. I’m daring to hope. John Smit has learnt from his mistakes and has not gone into anything lightly this time – or so it seems.

  • Comment 28, posted at 13.01.15 21:12:10 by [email protected] Reply

  • @Dynamite (Comment 27) : Very interesting! I think there could be something to that…although it clearly doesn’t help England in the same way… 🙂

  • Comment 29, posted at 13.01.15 21:28:42 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Preparing for conditions in feb/March is not difficult. The guys practice in that same environment fro
    Late November. But hey, if you are wary of a slippery ball and pitch, use a hosepipe to wet it. If the worry is just the ball then coat it in Vaseline. Point I’m trying to make is, the guys have ways of sullying the conditions from October on wards. Those excuses don’t hold with me anymore. Those coaches are 10 times more rugby smart than me, plus a lot of those players have been playing in Durban for a few years now, so the climate should not be an excuse, it is not like the Sharks are from the most Southern Point of NZ that never sees any real heat….oh wait if we were, maybe we would’ve been as success as the Crusaders

  • Comment 30, posted at 13.01.15 21:32:58 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Simulating match conditions with training sounds about right. Hey, if they can get SP Marais to run in the right direction and into space I’m sure we’d be seeing a lot more tries. I think he’s got the pace, size, awesome boot, offloads (well at least for the 2 games last year) – confidence and right decision making is what’s lacking. Hopefully he’s stepping up with Venter/Gold.

  • Comment 31, posted at 13.01.15 23:04:25 by DeanOwens Reply

  • @DeanOwens (Comment 31) : SP looked a good one in the 2013 CC. Had a few uncertainties, but balanced them with a bit of magic. 2014 he struggled, and he admitted he wasn’t playing how he wanted to. Maybe the coaching situation didn’t help? Not ready to cast the guy off, I think he can be a good player for us.

  • Comment 32, posted at 13.01.15 23:59:16 by Here be dragons Reply

    Here be dragons
  • I like the positive approach, attitude is immensely important; that is stating the obvious. I don’t want to see headless attack, but given the brains trust – (key players + coaching) I am sure it will be balanced, and balance is an understatement – we have the team and the goods to be balanced. Ruthless on defense, protecting every inch, and calculating on attack, if we can develop a rhythmic pattern of play and a definite game plan, then that to me would be a massive step forward – sooner or later this team needs to produce a trophy.

  • Comment 33, posted at 14.01.15 09:19:31 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • @Here be dragons (Comment 32) : yes I think JW totally broke the guys confidence hope with the new coaches he can get it back and deliver on the promise he showed.

  • Comment 34, posted at 14.01.15 09:52:16 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 34) : He will be a much better layer if he just stop doing that stupid little kangaroo hop everytime he tries to run. That split second it takes for him to do that, is time that allows the defender to line him up.

  • Comment 35, posted at 14.01.15 09:54:39 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 35) : ja that looks funny but I must say I really don’t care what he does as long as it’s effective.

  • Comment 36, posted at 14.01.15 10:23:56 by JD Reply
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  • Expect good stuff from SP this year. Not worried about him or his play at all. Lwazi should also play a few games at 15 to make himself more valueable to HM as a bench option.

  • Comment 37, posted at 14.01.15 12:48:37 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 30) : Of course, practicing in those conditions definitely helps…I think the stats the Sharks produce in Durbs in Feb/Mar compared to their opponents (who don’t practice in those conditions) tend to back that thought up. Simulating conditions will also help your ability to play in those conditions and bring about improvements. But all that will never change the fact that it is more difficult to handle a ball with Vaseline on it than to handle one without Vaseline on it…and it is more difficult to handle a wet ball than a dry one…and it is tougher to play and score plenty of tries in the humidity of Durbs in Feb/Mar than it is when that humidity is not there. So I agree that we should do all we can to improve our ability to play in those conditions…but I don’t think we should expect the Sharks or anyone else to play as if the Feb/Mar Durbs conditions didn’t exist…

  • Comment 38, posted at 14.01.15 13:26:20 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @pastorshark (Comment 38) : Yes practicing and simulating conditions does help. But i can practise running through fire and whilst i may get better at it, doesnt mean its a good idea. Same applies to running the ball to much in Feb/Mar in Durban

  • Comment 39, posted at 14.01.15 13:51:21 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 39) : Agreed…that’s my point…

  • Comment 40, posted at 14.01.15 15:05:16 by pastorshark Reply
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  • I would love to see the sharks take the gaps and getting those offloads just right. That’s exciting rugby and win or lose you can’t help but being enthusiastic about a team that plays their heart out. But some sane heads also need to be there to reel in now and then and ensure we don’t become the Samoa of the s15 series.

  • Comment 41, posted at 15.01.15 14:06:18 by coolfusion Reply

  • @GreatSharksays (Comment 37) : I for one would love to see them give some special attention to SP and his game. When I first saw him I thought he had a lot of potential. I would love to be right about this one.

  • Comment 42, posted at 15.01.15 14:07:46 by coolfusion Reply

  • @coolfusion (Comment 42) : I still think SP has some potential jjst needs the coach to show some trust in him and he could deliver on that potential.

  • Comment 43, posted at 15.01.15 16:08:02 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 39) : don’t need to run with every ball but if the situation is right then for sure they must run with it. Sharks for sure have the play makers to know when to kick and when to run.

  • Comment 44, posted at 15.01.15 16:10:58 by JD Reply
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