Who Are The Leading Outside-centres In South Africa @ 1stXV Level?

Photo supplied

Bart Schoeman and I analysed most of the available footage of 1stXV games (2020) during the "lockdown" weeks and attempted to identify our top players in each position.

The Top outside-centres we identified were: 1. Ethan James (Paarl Gim), 2. Christiaan du Toit (Affies), 3. Hakeem Kunene (Paarl Boishaai), 4. Gert Steyn (Grey College), Keagan Balfour (EG Jansen).

The following boys also caught our attention: Kerneels Coetze (Garsfontein), Luke Burger (Paul Roos), Damian Markus (Middelburg HTS), Canan Moodie (Boland Landbou), Josh Jonas (Hudson Park).

Please keep in mind that we could only evaluate players of which we had footage available and our selections were based on the performance on that day. Furthermore, we do not claim that we know all and if you disagree you are welcome to contact me (carl@ruggas.co.za) or Bart (bart@sportscon365.com). If you feel that we missed a player please send details of where we can find the videos and/or links of videos. Coaches and parents are more than welcome to discuss the players and evaluation with the match analysis.


Listen to the discussion regarding the outside-centre at 39:30 in the above RuggasTV episode

Please keep in mind that any technical and positional evaluation of a player must be reinforced by the following aspects for a player to grow in future and especially after school:

1) Strength of character. Any successful sportsman will need to apply himself in honesty, teamwork and full support of the system that he works under.
2) Work ethic and personal application to improve himself, in sport and off the field. He must be ‘coachable’
3) Lifestyle and value-driven. Being a sportsman full time, semi- or full professional, requires a dedicated lifestyle change to reach set goals and to become a better human being.

Outside Centre - Like the fly-half, he generally possess a good kicking game and are good at reading the play and directing the attack. The outside centre is positioned outside the inside centre and is generally the faster of the two. The centres' main role is to provide space for the players outside them. He needs to run good lines (run into spaces or at 90 degrees to their opposition), be able to side step and swerve, and have good passing skills. He needs to be an aggressive tackler to knock their opponent down and seize the ball and be good at organising the defensive lines. Outside centres generally have more room to move than inside centres. Centres also provide support at the breakdowns and can run as decoys to confuse the defence

Position-specific requirements:

Midfield combination with the following differences:
1) The major difference between the 12 and 10 positions is the players' body composition. Inside centres tend to be bigger - and a bit quicker - than fly-halves.
2) Because the 12 is seen as a fly-half playing in the midfield they often are called second five-eights.
3) They take the ball into contact (tackles) more than a number 10 normally would.
4) Modern day players are leaner and stronger because the modern game is physically demanding, but that doesn't mean modern day centres use brawn over brains.
5) A classic 12 doesn’t try to smash through players. It's about using your attributes to the best of your abilities.
6) The way centres play is very subjective and comes down to the individual coach's tactics for that game and their style, combinations and makeup is often determined by the team approach to the game.
7) Some 12’s at the highest level are not the quickest of backs.
8) Both centres must be able to play the ball with his hands, put the wide passes in, put short passes in, or take the ball into contact and pass the ball out of the tackle.
There isn't too much difference between the inside and outside centre.
1) As a rule, the outside centre tends to be quicker, but not maybe as big as an inside centre.
2) A hard, straight-running centre who tackles well, who takes the ball into contact well, that can play on the angle and which perfectly complements the skills for a number 12.
3) Coaches often spend a lot of time working out the best combination between 12 and 13 as it provides the backline with the best defensive and attacking options.
Both the 12 and 13 must be able to:
1) Distribute accurately off both hands.
2) Have the ability to make line breaks.
3) Kick well out of hand (especially 12).
4) Distribute well off both hands with a range of passes
5) Show the ability to make line breaks.
6) Identify and exploit overlaps.

Core aspects for both 12 and 13
1) Must be technically correct and capable of making decisions under intense pressure
1) Must be an aggressive & competent tackler.
2) Must always threatens defences.
3) Must have the ability to commit defences with running lines, and utilises support players, inside and out.
1) Must have a range of attacking & defensive kicks (more 12).
Key positional attributes
1) Must have the ability to “read” game and select correct tactics (more 12).
2) Must make effective decisions.
3) They must be able to improvise & adapt to changing situation.
4) The are key decision makers and communicator, especially on defence and when on attack from broken play. (more 12).
1) Must be an aggressive & competent tackler.
2) Must create turnover opportunities.
Technical Skills
1) He must be able to time an accurate pass for the receiver.
2) He must be an alternative kicking option to flyhalf (more 12).
3) He must be able to chip/grubber/nudge kick for self or others.
4) He must be able to stay up/remain on feet in the tackle.
5) He must have a wide range of kicking options to get ball in behind the opposition (grubber, chip, wipers, long).
6) He must be a viable option for clearance kicks (preferably alternate foot from 10).
7) He must be able to handle the ball with both hands for continuity and distribution.
Attack - Outside Centre
1) He is a strike player
2) He is the key support player at the tackle, following kicks and cover defence.
3) he must be a penetrating player, act as decoy and have good offloading skills in the contact situations.
4) He must have the ability to commit defence with running lines, and utilises support players, inside and out.
5) He must have good alignment and cohesion with inside player on all facets of attack and defence.
6) He must be a straight runner to keep attack alignment.
7) He must be able to identify and take the outside gap and release support players

Games watched: Milnerton vs Melkbosstrand, Brackenfell vs Durbanville, Bellville vs Stellenberg, SACS vs Boland Landbou, Wynberg vs Paul Roos, Rondebosch vs Paarl Boishaai, Paarl Gim vs Bishops, Affies vs Helpmekaar, Dale vs Muir, Hudsonpark vs Nico Malan, Queen's vs Pearson, Grey HS vs Brandwag, Kingswood vs Selborne, St Andrew's vs Framesby, Graeme vs Marlow, Gonubie vs Mzzomhle, Chief Boklein vs Aplandale, Queen's vs Stirling, Grens vs Toise, Cambridge vs de Vos Malan, Dale vs Port Rex, Selborne vs Hudson Park, Menlopark vs Ben Vorster. Boishaai vs Monnas, Affies vs Diamantveld, Dale College vs Muir College, Grey College vs Welkom Gim, St Alban's vs Kroonstad AHS, EG Jansen vs Invitation XV, Garsfontein vs Kempton Park, Frikkie Meyer vs Stellenberg, Montana vs Die Anker, Waterkloof vs Outeniqua, Boland Landbou vs Middelburg HTS, Pretoria Boys High vs Paarl Gimnasium.

Next week we will include another 18 games of which we received footage of.