Based on the decisions being made by all referees at all levels there seems to be emerging a genuine to desire to allow the ball to be contested at the post tackle. For teams who are playing to a prescribed pattern based on the assumption that the number of attacking players needed in support are 2-3, they are in for a big surprise.
Commitment is based on opposition cues and this limited commitment by the attack has become the main cue if Saturday night is the trend.
The range of infringements at the breakdown has been great and varied but the tolerance now being shown could mean that the ability to win tackled ball rewards the attacking team with a less numerous defensive screen to play against. This is based on the principle that the tougher it is to win the ball the greater the reward in time and space. This is because the struggle to win the ball reflects the commitment of the opposition to contest it.
So we now have a situation in which reading the cues is more important than prescribed patterns because the situation is no longer prescribed. It is now one of great variation.
What could be the cues to regain possession apart from the limited commitment of the team in possession?
- Making contact before the attack has got to the gain line is one.
- A second could be a multiple tackle on an upright and stationary ball carrier.
- A third a front running ball carrier who has to stop and reach back for the ball.
- And a pass that is too high or too low.
- Loose ball, even if one of the attack is likely to initially gather it, is a cue, especially if the player has to go back to the ball.
- And, finally, the challenge for a high ball outside the 22m line.
The key to it is fast reactions by the defenders closest to the ball.
The maul has never really taken off as the pre-eminent method of creating space. It takes place close to goal-line especially from line-outs and maybe from kick offs.
Most of the time we seem to prefer “T” boning. I say prefer, in some teams the receiver is very flat and, if you are not meant to pass the ball to someone in a worse position that yourself, should not receive the ball. I know the aim is to get rid of some tacklers from the defensive screen in the tackle and cause the defence to compress. In reality this seldom happens.
Momentum is created when a miss match takes the ball over the gain line and the speed of re-cycling aims to increase the momentum and penetrate against retreating defences.
But now we may have returned to the game a ruck in which numbers that are committed have to be based on the situation with the defence seeking the turnover.
It remains to be seen but just maybe we may have space to attack from phase play and be diverging from a rugby league like situation.