Sunday, 16 December 2012

Rugbys changing

Rugby World Cup theory.

Rugby changes slowly, but sometimes without us realising. This is because I think, we don't see this seasons standard as higher than the last, but more playing better and keeping up with our competitors. Whats happening is the game is evolving slowly but surely. What I did was, I watched 4 matches from 4 different world cups. I chose them because, we wouldn't notice any difference from one year to the next, however the differences are a lot more apparent and visible over a 4 year time frame. Also these matches would be the highest international standard of that year...

               In 2003 in the England and Australia match, what I noticed was that there was a very fast tempo in the backline. Not as many rucks were being attacked from a defensive perspective (meaning very little counter rucking). Kicking wasn't only used to relieve pressure, but to apply it more often than not. Scrums were more sloppy and not as competitive. Set pieces were a lot more off cue and possession wasn't seen as precious as it is now. I'm not saying that the players weren't competitive, but they didn't seize the opportunities as that they could have contested. The forwards were not as concerned about winning the ball against the head in set pieces but more as the chore of the backline or error of the opposition.

                In 2011, in the the World cup semi final of New Zealand and France. What struck me were the forwards from the breakdown in defence, situated themselves as tight as they could. As the backs, were predominantly in the 2nd and wing channels. The whole teams defencive line speed was exceptional, not rushing up t the opposition, but more keeping it organised and strong. What appeared to be the game plan, was to have the forwards draw and concentrate the defence, then to exploit the wing. Having a tight rugby league style of play, then an American football exploitation of the wing, but of course with having the 10 dictate the timing and placement. With a rather play maker of a 10 dictation, which is a very technical and rather the out halves trying to read each others next move or plan.

                 In 1999, New Zealand again were playing France in a semi final. What actually stunned me was the overall standard of skills, has improved dramatically to how we are expected to play now. Having a winger charge through a number of tackles on more than one occasion would not happen in today's game therefore having tackling not as much as . (I will though give them some sympathy as this winger was Jonah Lomu) During the match there were 2 drop goals. To me this says that, the players didn't value possession and attacking opportunities as much as we do now, but rather were more reckless in their decision making ability.

Overall, we have evolved a lot from the careless, sloppy and unpredictable game that it was. We still have a long way to go, but that said it's developing at a fast rate. Rules that are being added and altered, are effectively trying to change the game into more of a free flowing game that it should be. The players themselves have gone from heavy, strong men to lean, productive rugby players suited to their positions roll.

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