The World Cup is fast approaching and the world is very excited to see who will lift the trophy in October. I want to speak about defence and how it will affect the World Cup and what the best teams will do to stop attack.
We speak of modern attack and modern defence - attack is now evolving and forcing defence to adjust and react to what attack is doing. Defence coaches are coaching teams to get off the line and shut attacking space down. The attack coaches then tell their teams to attack flatter to hold line speed which forces defence to hold back a bit. That is a challenge defence will be facing at the World Cup. Attack shapes are evolving which means that there will be plenty options close to the gainline that will keep defence on their heels and buy attack time to make the best decisions and exploit defence. Another threat defence will be posed with is the different running lines that are used by attack to stop defence and open up holes and expose weak shoulders. Then lastly the most difficult thing to defend is the kick pass into space - how will defence deal with this if attack notices that they defend narrow?
What good defence will do to counter this:
The teams that will stop the above will have certainty about what they want to achieve - something I have learnt from one of the best defence coaches in the world in Omar Moumeine. They will understand the principle of having a tackling system that benefits them to execute and get the ball back. Making positive hits and applying pressure to the defense breakdown will be part of their plan to disrupt attacking ball. They will be able to adjust at the latest moments to react to decoys and stop lines which we call swimming on defence. Every team should have clarity in who defends at the back when we have loaded the front line because if we can cover the back we are also discouraging attack to find the kick pass to the players in the trams. The teams that will have the best defence will understand when to jam In and when not to. They will have a system they understand and back the system to get the ball back. To me, the team that understands the principles of tryline defence will win the World Cup because it is a territory where attack will have to fire all shots to punch and score and if their tryline defence is on point and they prevent attack from scoring psychologically defence will be ahead. We must not forget that defence is also mindset. The interesting thing will be which teams use kicking and defence in tandem to trap teams. Teams like South Africa and New Zealand have different systems but can they win the World Cup with each system? Yes, definitely because there is clarity and certainty in what they have trained to do.
Katleho Lynch Defence Coach - Provincial u18 Coach, S.A. Rugby u17 High Performance Coach 2017, 2018 and 2019