Total rugby is a concept that Jim Greenwood phrased and wrote a few books (each a great read) about. The concept is that all your players need a very good basic set of skills not limited to playing positions. If we look at the All Blacks their forwards and backs can pass at the same level.
So for many seasons as a student of the game, I followed an attacking approach, up-skilling all my players with team skills:
1. Transfers: passing, oﬄoads, everyone’s a 9 & pops of the ground
2. Breakdown: attacking blast & bridge, crocodile & ball placement; Defensive slowing possession
3. Running lines: Unders, Step ’n go & Overs lines
4. Contact Skills: Tackle technique, tracking & wrestling
5. Decision making: 1v1, 2v1, 3v2, 4v2, 5v3 & continuity maze’s
A very good system to this day, when incorporated with games for understanding and scenario-based coaching.
Trends in the game
Although we should also focus on current trends at the level you coach at. So if we start looking at trends in the game, most tries come from:
2. Counterattack or
3. The ﬁrst 2 Phases of play
So depending on what level you playing at, the statistics provide for interesting reading. At the proﬀesional level, the teams that win most, are the teams that:
1. Kick the most
2. Tackle the most
3. Conceded the most penalties &
4. Has the least possession
But with these stats one has to ask, how are we going to win. With New Zeeland coaches leading the way across the world at the moment, we have to look at what they are doing. They focus heavily on individual basics skills per position, eﬀective attack (getting explosive strike runners attacking the weaker defenders), eﬀective structured turnover attack, exceptional kick to counter policies.
So with defence’s starting to dominate the game, what do we spend our time on at training. Are our processes as coaches focussed on the right blend or mix?
Areas we can focus on more as South African coaches:
60-70% of all tries in the proﬀesional game come from turnovers or counter-attack. A quick transition from defence to attack and vice versae is vital and as coaches, we often stop the training when the attacking team loses possession. Not allowing the opposition to use that turnover possession.
Do we have a turnover policy? On gaining possession from a turnover you can have a; two pass strategy, a tight ﬁve decoy policy or kick for space policy, depending on your philosophy as a coach. You must add this to your weekly training plan and process. Be creative and allow the players to spot space and attack that space, as the opposition were in attack mode before conceding the possession.
Having spent time oversea’s it was interesting to analyse the teams, been coached by the Kiwis. They tend to structure their counter-attack, moving the ball to a certain point before striking on the following phase, with set decoy runners and strategies to break the opposition down. Especially aimed at isolating the heavies in the wider channels and attacking those players with the faster outside backs. Counterattack is a vital part of the game and it is important to spend time with your whole team on this aspect of the game.
First 2 Phases of Play
Of all the other tries, 60% are scored form the ﬁrst two phases. Meaning we need to get top quality ball, then use eﬀective strike moves to exploit the space oﬀered by the forwards being bunched at a certain point.
Are we getting creative with our backline strikes, or with our Line-out strike moves? We can create a second Line of attack, we can use wraparounds and decoys with inside ball options. We have to attempt to create linebreaks from our strike moves and not just use it for setting a platform.
We can also look at the Aussie attacking system whereby they get creative oﬀ the second phase by playing mini moves to attack space and speciﬁc defenders.
In quick a summary, when we coaching attack we need to add our turnover attack system to our team processes as defenders are still transitioning, and thus the defence is disorganised. When looking at our kicking strategy we need to kick to counter, meaning we must kick on our terms (front foot), into space to set up a counter-attack opportunity.
On ﬁrst phase attack we can get creative to break the line and after that look to add a mini move to the second phase.
1. Turnover attack policy
2. Kick to Counter
3. Mini moves oﬀ second phase
So as a romantic in rugby, I like the attacking game and for all my players to have a total rugby approach with all the skills.
But with the above three processes in place, TAP, K2C & MMS, it allows the players to express themselves and enjoy the game and allows your team to ask more questions of the opposition's defence.
This a total smart rugby approach teaches the players to attack the space in a balanced way, form diﬀerent situations and ﬁeld positions.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions and comments.
Andre Tredoux #DARE2CARE