Rather than produce a long article on a particular subject I have written about some of the issues that I have seen and been thinking about in recent weeks. I hope they are of interest to you.
Law 19.8(a) Minimum. At least two players from each team must form a lineout.
Does this mean that once two players from the non throwing team line up the ball can be thrown in so long as the throwing team has this number or more? Let’s say the throwing team has a full lineout or, at least more than the non throwing team – can the ball be thrown in?
This has implications for a team whose lineout has limited options.
From the opposite point of view if the non throwing team forms up before the throwing team they have given the throwing team a blueprint for miss matches so long as the throw is made in time to prevent the opposition adjusting.
Like all aspects of play that are based on a reaction to the behaviour of the opposition it is difficult for the opposition to analyse the play of a team that is reacting to them.
However, not so much in lineout play, but in attack I have found it takes some time to learn to play to the option that emerges. There tends to be too many variables. Maybe limiting the moves to a small number, each of which generates options, will help.
Law 16.2(b) A player joining a ruck must bind on a team-mate or an opponent, using the whole arm. The bind must either precede or be simultaneous with, contact with any other part of the body of the player joining the ruck.
The “gate” is a blessing as it prevents cheap shots into the ribs of an opponent when a player enters from the side. The problem is that the width of the gate is variable. If a the tackled ball carrier lies parallel to the touch line it is about as wide as the hips. If this player lies parallel to the goal line it can be as wide as a farm gate.
Players can enter throw the gate and they can be bound to a team mate “preceding” their arrival.
My point is how can 2 players bound to each other like a 2 man front row get through the gate of the first variety let alone the unthinkable of a complete front row of 3 arriving? They may even be too wide for the second gate.
A ref of some experience has told me you can only enter individually. It seems he is wrong.
This has implications for stability at the ruck and for reducing infringements inherent in the pile up.
Law 16.4(b) Players must not handle the ball in a ruck except after a tackle if they are on their feet and have their hands on the ball before the ruck is formed.
We are all aware of the pick and go on the goal line as the attack attempts to drive over the line. As a group of forwards positions at the back of the ruck they often have their hands on the ball. They are either handling the ball in the ruck or the ball is out.
Sometimes they hold the ball and then let it go again so it is assumed that, at the very least the ball has been returned to the ruck. This is illegal under Law 16.4(a).
The defence should be able to play the ball if it is out – when it can see the sky – and when a player handles it as, by implication, this ball cannot be in the ruck or it is hands on the ball – “PENALTY”.
Just a further comment on this. Pick and go draws the defence towards the ball creating an overlap. It is taking the players a long time to recognise this and, even when it is recognised Sonny Bill Williams can blow it. Still a rugby amateur I’m afraid, when it comes to the basics of the game.
We are now reverting to shallow recoverable kick offs but they lack the precision of a previous era as amateur as they were at that time.
In the late 1980′s I was conducting a planning session with the Auckland coaching staff at Eden Park in one of the corporate boxes as we planned the future of NZRU Coaching.
Auckland practiced at around 5:30pm.
At 4:30pm we looked down to the playing surface and Jason Hewitt the Auckland (and All Black) halfback was wheeling a shopping trolley of balls onto Eden Park. He was accompanied by Grant Fox. The trolley was left with Grant on halfway line in the middle while Jason used cones to mark a target area 10.1 to 15 metres from the halfway line and between 5 and 10 metres from touch. He then stood in the target area and Grant proceeded to rain drop kicks and place kicks to him. I think place kicks at the re-start may have been still in vogue then.
Once the trolley was empty it was wheeled over to be re-filled and the exercise continued.
After about 30 minutes of this they were joined by the Auckland locks and No.8.They positioned in 3 optional positions so that they could arc into the ball in flight running from the touchline.
Each kick was to the left so that the right foot kick arced in its flight. At times it was running parallel to the 10 metre line. The balls flight and the running line of the jumpers enabled them to move into the ball so it was not moving away from them.
The next option was to practice as if they were the receiving team the mechanics of arcing onto the ball being the same. Today they have assistance to leap high and maintain stability in the air but not then..
It should be said that Auckland at the time were more likely to receive kick offs than perform them.
How’s this for an axiom?
The points you score are only as good as your field position at the first stoppage after the re-start.
What am I saying here?
Just that, once you score, your tactical advantage is maximised by recovering the ball from the re-start and playing so that, when the ref next blows the whistle you are in the opposition’s territory. If you manage to have the ball to re-start play once again is ideal.
So often the play of team’s implies that they are willing to give their opponents a chance to score once