Next let’s discuss collisions:
I left high school back in 1992. In high school we were taught to run into defenders and immediately go to ground setting up a ruck. This was to suck defenders into the ruck which opened up space for the backs to run at. Since 1992 there have been so many developments at the breakdown that this tactic rarely works in modern rugby.
Fetchers turn over ball quickly and their team counter attacks. Teams no longer overload rucks, therefore the sucking in of defenders isn’t quite as effective. Conditioning coaches are working on the speed of getting up off the floor and back into a defensive position. Smaller defenders often attack the ball and rip it free before you have even reached the ground.
Baring in mind all the developments at ruck time over the last 25 years or so, not just what I mentioned, running smack into a defender and immediately going to ground is fraught with danger of a turnover. Turnover ball sets up a counter attack and counter attack is so effective because one second team A is on the attack and the next they have to defend but without the structure they would normally have in defence because only a second ago they were structured to attack.
There have been developments as far as how an attacker runs into a defender.
If the ball is held in two hands by the attacking player then the defender is unsure whether to go for the tackle just yet because the defender thinks the attacker may pass at any moment. This delay by the defender can create opportunities for the attack. If the defender goes in to early this can also create opportunities for the attack. This is modern rugby.
If the player holds the ball under one arm and leads into the tackle with the other this has forewarned the defence that the ball carrier is going to run smack into the defender. The tackler is never in doubt as to when he must make the tackle and the next defender can see where he has to be to steal( jackal) the ball. This is Domkrag rugby.
Footwork is very important. The idea is to try and hit a gap or half gap where you have the defender at a disadvantage. Like being off balance or changing the expected point of collision suddenly so the defender only gets an arm in the tackle rather than a shoulder. This is modern rugby.
Running straight lines can be effective when the intended ball carrier appears unexpectedly or if players are running different angles. This is modern rugby
When you receive a ball and run straight at a defence without having tricked the defence or caught them out then your only intention can be to run over the defender or through him. Like Damien de Allende or Jean de Villiers do. This is Domkrag rugby
With today’s players all being professional they are all in fantastic physical condition and can stand up to tackles. Plus modern coaching works very hard on technique in making tackles. Specialists are used to analyze and find ways to tackle big strong runners.
South Africans love big collisions.
Whenever a massive player like Willem Alberts gets going and is running at full speed, you know whoever he runs into it’s going to hurt. If the player he runs into is another big hard man like let’s say Bakkies Botha then you know the collision is going to be massive.
Just listen to the crowd and how they cheer when the see a collision like this. Listen to commentators like Warren Brosnihan or Robbie Kempson, you can hear in their voice just how excited they are to see this kind of thing. This is Domkrag rugby.
South Africa always has a long injury list. Just recently Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jean de Villiers have been on the injury list. I feel this is a result of so many South African players looking to run over or through defenders. Actually seeking the collision. People are just flesh and bone and after so many hits even the toughest bodies break. This is Domkrag rugby.
Ruben Kruger was known as a South African tough guy. Two months short of his 40th birthday he died having suffered from brain cancer for ten years. Andre Venter the South African man of steel suffered from a degenerative syndrome ( transverse myelitis)after he retired and is now in a wheelchair. Joost van der Westhuizen also suffered from a degenerative syndrome (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). My point is although they can’t connect these to all the impacts from their rugby playing days it’s odd that all three of these tough guys have had these crippling conditions.
I’ve often wondered if you placed 15 tackle bags on a rugby pitch, then threw the ball to a player and said to him
“let’s see what you can do?”. How many South African players would run into the tackle bags?
Let’s talk about the offload out of the tackle.
The best player for off-loading out of the tackle is Sonny Bill Williams. I think this ability comes from Rugby League. Sonny Bill Williams featured in a Rugby League World cup final at Wembley in 2013 when Australia defeated New Zealand.
The idea behind an off-load out of the tackle is to continue the movement of attack without slowing play down too much. If it became a ruck it slows down considerably anywhere from a couple of seconds to 20 seconds giving defenders precious time to get into position whereas an off-load doesn’t allow that to happen. It also takes the defender out of the game because he is busy tackling the off-loader and where that defender was there is now a hole so the player receiving the off-load will aim for that hole. A ruck as I have said before is an area where a turnover could quite easily happen so an off-load cuts this danger out of your attack.
Many players have now copied SBW’s out the back of the hand off-load or the arm over the top of the tackle off-load. The effectiveness of an off-load is understanding what the team is trying to achieve and how you as a player can facilitate this. So if your intent is as a team to try to score tries by playing the ideal rugby mentioned in pat 1 then you know where to pass and when to pass. That way your timing and type of pass are good and the off-load is effective.
If your team is unsure of their intent and you as a player carry the ball as far as you can and only look for the off-load when you have been stopped then the off load is not as effective and your team don’t score tries and don’t win silverware. A good example of this was in the playoff match in the Super 15 between the Stormers and the Brumbies. After Damian de Allende ran through a defender he really should have been looking to pass or off-load instead he chose to carry on going. The try never got scored. This is Domkrag rugby.
There is still a place in the modern game for big runners to smash it up, suck in the defence and open things up for the attack.
But if these nominated big runners smash it up in the same channels over and over again for team A through the match then match after match then season after season. Then team B will soon get familiar with where these big runners are going to take it up. If team B know where team A are going to do it then team B can hatch a plan to stop it.
If you watch a South African team play, the big runners run down the fly-half’s channel. Like Willem Alberts or Duane Vermeulen. It makes sense because you have a big guy running at a smaller guy. So the big guy will get over the advantage line giving his team go forward ball to attack off of. The problem is that the South Africans always do this so the defence are waiting and are ready, so the resulting ruck has a higher chance of being turned over. Another factor is because this channel is so close to the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout the defence is never being stretched. Defenders don’t have to run far to get to the next point of collision.Hitting it up over and over in the channels close to the breakdown is Domkrag rugby
How often have we seen Brodie Retallick run off a pass from the no.12 or n0.13 hitting it up in midfield or Kieran Read or Jerome Kaino getting the ball in the wide channels. Sometimes you see Richie McCaw appear between no.13 and the wings usually he actually doesn’t hit it up but rather plays link man with a runner coming in on the angle. What I’m saying is the All Blacks mix it up and the defence is unsure where these big runners are going to hit it up. By having the big runners hit it up in the wider channels you force the defence to work harder to get there. Tiring them out which could pay dividends later in the game.This is modern rugby.
Once the first big runner has hit it up, the South Africans tend to have another forward come around the corner to gain those few extra metres and maybe suck in a couple more defenders. The problem is this is quite often over done and the ball is not sent wide at the right time. This is because the intent is not there to play ideal rugby, it’s just a case of just keep bashing away and something will give. By keeping the ball close it feels safer, where actually it isn’t.
This runner coming around the corner is full of danger for the attacking side. A ball carrier can quite easily get isolated. This could result in a turnover or a penalty against you. The amount of laws regarding rucks can make it a lottery if the ball goes to ground. So by persisting with repetitive rucks you are making the chance of being penalised higher. This is Domkrag rugby
More in Part 3