Articles

Integrating the forwards into phase attack Posted about 1 year ago

Default

Photo: Wales Online

Integrating the forwards into phase attack

Teams from New Zealand are the best in the world at integrating their forwards into attacks as they develop through phases, and it is one the main ‘secrets’ behind their ability to sustain continuity at high speed in this area.

In his outstanding recent series of videos on coaching the attack from Stanford University in California, Sir Graham Henry outlines how some of those secret processes really work.

In part four of his presentation, Ted examines the options in a three-man forward pod in the middle of the field.

The options can be summarized as follows:
i. A carry by the forward in the middle of the group
ii. A ‘tip’ pass from the middle forward to the man outside him
iii. An inside pass
iv. A ‘rip’ on the over-call by the back standing behind the forward pod

Although this structure can be observed in most teams at professional level, the number of sides who make full use of the potential within it is relatively small.

As Graham Henry puts it, “A lot of teams use this structure, but all they do is carry the ball (into contact via the ‘middle man’)." “The good teams have the skill to get in behind. Make the tip, the rip, the inside ball or carry.”

Some ideal examples of the possibilities contained within the structure occurred during the British & Irish Lions second tour match against the Blues at Eden Park.

The Blues scored a try in the 7th minute which hinged on the ability of their ‘middle man’ in the pod – tight-head prop Charlie Faumuina – to both carry and distribute, and critically to make the right decision about what to and when to do it.

The first use of the Faumuina pod occurred after the Blues had re-gathered a cross-kick on the right side of the field:

View it now

There is a shot illustrating the decision-making process just before Faumuina takes the ball up into contact:

At 6:15 Charlie Faumuina does not see space outside him so decides to take the ball up into the midfield defence by point straight ahead of him. At 6:22 (right at the end of the footage), we can see why. The last Lions’ defender (#14 Jack Nowell in the blue hat) is level with his opposite number, Blues #11 Rieko Ioane on the 15 metre line. In addition, the Lions two backfield defenders – Leigh Halfpenny (in the black hat) and Rhys Webb, are split evenly to either side of the ruck set by Faumuina.

However, it is Faumuina’s first decision which sets the ground for the success of the second. The Lions’ defence is compact, Nowell has his shoulders turned infield towards the play, and the two-man backfield is narrow – and these are aspects that can be exploited by the use of variation within that middle pod.

Watch it here

The surface situation looks quite similar to the first example. Faumuina receives the ball with Nowell and Ioane still roughly opposite one another on the 15 metre line and the Lions still operating their narrow two-man backfield.

But as the Blues #10 Stephen Perofeta makes the ‘rip’ over-call to Faumuina, some subtle but important differences become evident:

Nowell has lost eye contact with Ioane and is turning more sharply infield than before, while Halfpenny and Webb are positioned further towards the far side-line than they were in the first example.

These two subtle differences will become major problems for the Lions if Faumuina can make the ‘rip’ delivery to Perofeta, and Perofeta can then hit Ioane in stride with the long pass.

The weight on Faumuina’s ‘rip’ is just right, and when Perofeta goes to make the final pass Jack Nowell’s inward momentum has continued to the point where he is ten metres adrift of Rieko Ioane and facing away from the target. Moreover, Halfpenny and Webb in the Lions backfield are too far away to be able to make a difference in cover defence. In the event, Ioane scores with some metres to spare.

Summary The example from the Blues-Lions game illustrates very clearly what a huge difference the presence of accurate decision-makers and ball-handlers in ‘grunt’ positions (like tight-head prop) can make.

The Blues successfully integrate Charlie Faumuina into their attacking structure by asking him to be able utilise all the options available to him. He must have the power to carry the ball up into the thickest part of the defence, but he must also have the hands and intelligence to be able to connect with the backs (given the over-call) or the forward positioned outside him.

In other words, the score comes from a tight forward with the capacity to think his way through the situations with which he is presented, and with the ball-handling ability to follow through on his decision once it has been made.

It sounds simple, but only the very best teams in the world enjoy it to the degree exhibited in this example. The true excellence is in the attention to detail. As the great Muhammad Ali once said, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to be climbed that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe”.

The Rugby site is the only online coaching resource to offer a truly global perspective, subscribe for 12 months – now at a lower price point.

Enter your email address to continue reading

We frequently post interesting articles and comment from our world class content providers so please provide us with your email address and we will notify you when new articles are available.

We'll also get in touch with various news and updates that we think will interest you. We promise to not spam, sell, or otherwise abuse your address (you can unsubscribe at any time).

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

Nick has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2002), Mike Ruddock (2004-2006) and latterly Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Since then, three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for, or won national sports book awards. The latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union. It is entitled “The Iron Curtain”. Nick has also written or contributed to four other books on literature and psychology. "He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches."

Comments
Topic Attack
Applicable to Coaches   Players   Others   Supporters and fans  

Related articles

How to make good choices after the break

What happens in the time and space after a break has been made is just as important, if not more so, than the initial breach. In his latest article, analyst Nick Bishop looks at the effect of right and wrong options after line breaks during the recent Crusaders vs Highlanders super rugby match.

Attacking the 13 channel – the All Black way!

In 2nd of the current pair of articles, Analyst Nick Bishop highlights how the All Blacks adjusted their attack to breakdown a well ordered French defence out wide.

Por qué los Jaguares están usando una línea biarticular en el Súper Rugby

En la ronda 11 del Super Rugby 2018, los Jaguares alcanzaron su primera victoria histórica en suelo neozelandés, y lo hicieron gracias a un tremendo esfuerzo en su scrum contra los Blues. Bajo el mando del nuevo entrenador Mario Ledesma (otro de la gran brigada del juego que basa el scrum con el talonador), se ven señales claras de que el equipo está recuperando el mojo de su fortaleza tradicional – el scrummaging. El analista Nick Bishop analiza las razones por las que esta técnica ha sido tan efectiva contra los Blues y contra otros grandes equipos.

Defending the 13 channel – the modern way

In the recent 1st test of the series, the contest between New Zealand’s wide attack and the French defence of the same area promised to be one for connoisseur, and so it proved. In the current pair of articles, Analyst Nick Bishop first examines how France’s defence in the 13 channel succeeded initially. In next week’s second articl the reasons why the All Blacks’ attack wrested control.

How back-line communication helps ‘spot’ attacking opportunities

In the modern professional era, it is no longer enough to rely on one or two players – typically the numbers 9 and 10 – to see and make all of the attacking play. Analyst Nick Bishop looks at how teams are building their backline ‘game intelligence’