Watching the hard fought match between New Zealand and Argentina at Wembley stadium in the 2015 RWC, I noticed that both these excellent teams avoid going to ground and only allow the ball to go to ground very reluctantly.
The way that these teams go about this differs and so does the purpose of each method but both are positive for attacking rugby.
To say New Zealand like a fast paced game is an understatement. They want the game to be quick. They are fit and skillfull and look to outplay a defence with the use of the offload. Late in the second half of the Japan v Scotland game the commentator said that there had been a total of 12 offloads in that match up until that point compared to 11 off-loads by Sonny Bill Williams in his 35 minutes he was on the field during the All Blacks v Argentina.
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.