People assume that all top rugby players must have a very high skill level, but they are wrong. There are only two centres in Japan who can pass it accurately, but that lack of precision is true the world over.
Too many centres have come up through the age groups where size has been everything. Just because they can smash their way over the gain line, coaches don’t seem to require them to work on their passing. That neglect of young players has repercussions. It stifles a lot of attacks when they graduate to senior level.
Australia and France, so long seen as the home of centres who could really pass, have been in decline for years. Soccer requires players to kick with both feet, so why doesn’t rugby require players to pass off either hand. Even a player as gifted as James O’Connor has to step when he passes off his left hand. Christian Leafanu is one of the few midfield backs around who is accurate on either side.
But it should be a given and there is no other way to get there than through hard work. Even senior players should be asked to put in the hours, just as soccer players stay behind after training to practice their free kicks and other skills. It is possible. Ma’a Nonu has made a massive improvement over the past eight years.
There are even a few half backs about who can’t pass. The Cheetahs attack best when Pretorius is in the middle of the pitch. The Cheetahs’s number eight picks up a lot from the scrum because Pretorius can run and pass, but he does not stand and pass well. He cannot do that basic skill.
Rugby needs to change. We have to get that big 100kg schoolboy centre to practise 50 passes a day. Passing is not a chore, it should be a skill to be nurtured. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I don’t care how good your players think they are, they almost certainly are not good enough.
Fruit and veg and 50 passes a day. It’s good for them. And they will be much better players at the end of it. They might even be able to run in an overlap without smashing a defender to pieces.
Are you seeing this same lack of basic skill? What do you put it down to? Comments below…