When Allister Coetzee says “We need to kick to attack, and not to defend” I understand what he means. Kicking to clear your lines or kicking just to get out of your territory is kicking to defend. AC elaborates further “We have to kick to get the ball back.” Nothing wrong with that except this seems to be what he is basing is attacking plan on. He argues that this is what the All Blacks do.
No, not exactly AC. The All Blacks and probably at franchise level the Highlanders do a lot of kicking. The basis for their attacking game doesn’t depend on a good kicking game but rather on good decision making.
Rather than trying to create attack from kicking, kicking is one of many techniques incorporated into an attacking structure. What do I mean by this? The first thing you do to set up your attacking structure is you set your start point. This start point would be a set piece (Scrum,Lineout or Kick-off). The backline will be lying as normal Flyhalf,Inside Centre, Outside Centre, Wing with the other Wing in his position and Fullback in his. Once the set-piece is over the forwards will split into three groups one on the left side of the field one on the right hand side of the field and one in the centre. The idea is to use the full width of the field. If one of the centres smahes into the midfield then there will be two or three forwards ready to clear out creating fast ball. The same happens when it goes wide. These forwards hold their positions or if too many players are sucked into one part of the field a forward must constantly be scanning the pitch looking where he needs to be. It is heads up rugby, and working off the ball. It emphasises the importance of the system working and quite often their is little personal glory.
This is the basis and basic of an attacking structure. Repeat run throughs of this structure over and over again get the players used to the system. So when things get too open on the pitch the team remember to stick to their structure, once the team return to the structure they are all playing to a set plan.
Now because defence’s close you down so quickly then you can get caught behind the gainline. If a side just thinks you are going to go wide everytime they will set their defence to stop you in your tracks. If you try take it up the middle they can set defence’s to counter this too.
So what do you do? The defence is destroying your attacking structure. The trick to undoing a defence is reading what the defence is doing. Then correctly deciding on what action to take. This is where good decision makers do things like a chip over the rush defence into space and recollect which gets you on the front foot but also will make the rush defence think twice about rushing up so quick. If the defence doesn’t rush up so quick then it’s a good time to spin it wide.
These decisions are made in milliseconds and it doesn’t depend on a great rugby mind it depends on how well you have been drilled into good decision making.When you are confronted with any situation you don’t think about it you react the way you have been drilled and because you react the way you have been drilled so do your teammates because you were drilled as a team. There is a great video of this with Dave Rennie on youtube.
Back to what AC is saying it would seem that the Springboks want to create attack off of kicking and recollecting. Do they have an attacking structure? Judging from the 9 previous tests that the Springboks have played I have seen little evidence of the basic gameplan I described above. All the forwards seem to follow the ball on attack which means they bunch up at one ruck and when the ball goes wide the players find themselves isolated. Have they been drilling good decision making? I doubt they have.
AC is asking the players to execute stage 3 of the attacking plan without having done 1 and 2. To answer the question in the title, as the structure depends on running and passing I would say Run came first then Kick.