How SBW can change union


Rugby Union will never be able to compete on a global level if it does not embrace a professional work ethic and mindset.

Rugby union is the best sport in the world! I guess I did not have to tell you that as those who will read this column will know it already.

How is it then that union, as a global sport, is so far behind the trend-setters? And no, the fact that the Rugby World Cup is the third most watched global sporting event does not change this, the fact is union is the sport of choice (most watched or followed) arguably in one country in the world only, New Zealand.

Some comments from individuals who are regarded as the leading experts in union has again re-affirmed that those who run the game, or has the power to change the game, are stuck in an archaic mindset.

One individual has everyone in the game talking at the moment, you know who I am talking about don’t you? Mr. Sonny Bill Williams.

There is no doubt that just about every single person that has anything to do with the game of rugby either as a commentator, coach, player or just a follower, is in absolute awe of the man. From parents encouraging their kids to do ‘Sonny-Bill’s’ (off-loads in the tackle) to journalists literally salivating all over their keyboards when they write something about him.

I am not sure if I am just stupid and have no clue what I am talking about, or if the ‘hype’ surrounding the player is as simple as a player that has broken the norm in his approach (more by accident than anything else), and because of that has everyone deluded just to what he is all about.

Sonny Bill himself probably sits back and thinks to himself; ‘What are all these damn fools on about? I am just doing what is natural to me!’

Perhaps allow me to explain.

A comment from a leading rugby expert and legend within the game of South Africa recently mentioned on one of these Rugby Magazine shows on television that he believes that the 15 players you pick to run onto the field should be the best 15 guys, and the 7 left on the bench should only be used if completely necessary (in other words if one of the first 15 gets injured).


Am I the only person on this planet that thinks that this statement is absolutely absurd? It seemed like it because his two in-studio guests all agreed with him (both Rugby World Cup winners no-less).

How, given the shifts the game of rugby has made globally since the start of professionalism, can we still not have the leading minds of the game accept that rugby is a 22-man game, played for 85 minutes? And if they cannot accept it, is it so surprising that our coaches still don’t get this or accept this and ultimately, neither do our players?

Not only do you have to coach, plan and strategize for a game today using all 22 players afforded to you to get maximum return from each individual and a massive advantage over your opponents on game-day, you have to ensure that you have at least 35 to 40 individuals in a squad system good enough to be called into a so-called ‘starting 15’ position on a 12-hour notice!

Which brings me back to Sonny Bill Williams…

Is this guys awesome? Damn straight he is! Is he a rugby phenomenon the likes of who we will see once in a lifetime? No, well yes…, if we continue to think about the game the same way we did 30 years ago, the Sonny Bill Williams’ of this world will come around once in a lifetime.

When I was first asked for my opinion on Williams a couple of weeks ago, I did not think he was anything special or phenomenal. What I did recognise is how he executes certain things on a rugby pitch with such brilliance, or better than anyone else, and does so consistently. You see I don’t think anything he does on a rugby field is groundbreaking or new, but why he does it so effectively is what caught my interest.

All of a sudden everyone wants Sonny Bill Williams clones, but has anyone actually asked WHY he is able to do what he does?

Firstly, recognise that Sonny Bill is a complete athlete, but being a complete athlete does not account for the ultimate product. We all know his background and influences, not only was he a league superstar, he is also a professional boxer.

In each sporting code you have different disciplines which are important if you are to succeed in them, more importantly in the context of this subject, it allows you to develop a specific skills sets which you would not normally develop if you had to practice just one of the codes and not all three like Williams has and still does.

Now I am not for one second suggesting send all rugby players on a league course or hand them a pair of boxing gloves, but what I am saying is that if you are to move forward, or stay ahead of the pack and develop the ultimate rugby player, you need to get your head out of your ass and realise the archaic mythologies we currently subscribe to is not good enough anymore.

Not only does a rugby team need a defense coach, they need a defense coach who is assisted by a contact expert.

Not only does a rugby team need an attack coach, they need an attack coach who is assisted by visualisation coach and experts in the field of biokinetics.

And I can carry on…

But what do most professional rugby teams have today? Well for some professional teams a dedicated defense coach alone is apparently a luxury…

I have no doubt Sonny Bill Williams’ ‘awesomeness’ is thanks to his development of specific skills no normal rugby player is currently exposed to, hence the fact he does what every rugby player has been doing for decades, he just does it differently, more effectively, and with greater consistency.

The one thing I will give Sonny Bill, is that he was an ‘accident’ that needed to happen in rugby union for some time now, and I can just hope that once we are all done wiping the saliva off our mouths admiring the exploits of this player on the rugby pitch, we will actually recognise the real reasons behind it.

But I fear listening to the leading rugby minds in South Africa currently, our own Sonny Bill’s are still some years away…

Facebook Comments


  1. Morne as usual a ‘made me think’ article.

    One of my personal missions and rugby-life frustrations is closed-eye contacts in rugby.

    A blink of the eye last between 0.3 and 0.4 seconds. 20km/h is what top marathon athletes run. At 20km/h one covers 2 meters in 0.36 seconds. 2m in the blink of an eye.
    How much further when the eyes are SHUT or when head is dropped and eyes face the ground.

    Watch footage and photos closely and SEE how often player tackle or get tackled with their eyes CLOSED!!!

    Last Sport Illustrated have a photo in beginning of mag where SBW runs past Sharks 10 – where 10 seems to round-arm hug the air where SBW was supposed to be – with 10’s EYES CLOSED !!!

    SBW box – 1st thing you GET when you box is – if you close your eyes in contact you get bliksemd !!!
    SBW watches the whole time what happens when in contact situations.

    I have loads of photos where locks eyes are closed when catching lineout balls. Vicky being a fav subject.
    Where players eyes are closed when jumping for catches – hehehe Percy was a fav subject of mine!

    This – eyes open during contact – is a skill not taught in rugby at all.

  2. Reply to The Brand @ 11:15 pm:

    And because he looks where he off-loads, the intercept is unlikely and the ball goes right where his team mate can catch it.
    Rugby off-loads before SBW were mostly pop-up and hope. In the future it will be different.

  3. Good article…

    TB… spot-on with the ‘eyes open’ in tackle zone and it’s possible origin in SBW’s case being a boxing trait…

  4. Reply to The Brand @ 8:59 am: Reply to Morné @ 8:46 am:

    He has influenced my coaching – when I saw the way he can off-load in November last year I started working with my team on this skill. Interesting was that the players that have been playing rugby for a longer time find it harder to do than the newbies. Going into contact has been drilled into these guys and what was drilled was “Ball protection”. The newbies take easier to it.

  5. Not so sure if offloading is a skill or a mindset.
    Passing is perhaps the first things you learn – hence my amazement about so many players that apparently cannot pass.

    And even the best passer or offloader or visionary in the game will not achieve SBW’s success if the team is not coached and trained to do support running and anticipating those passes.

  6. Reply to Boertjie @ 9:21 am:

    off-loading is less about the pop pass and more about HOW you go into contact. Most players – especially forwards are drilled to tuck the ball in under the arm to protect it.
    to off-load in contact you still need to protect the ball but also have so much controll over it that you can get the off-load on target or in many cases just pop the ball in the air and pray a support runner is on it.

  7. On the distance covered per – eye-blink.

    Comardes (90km±) is won in 5h25min ± – that gives you ± 3min 36sec per km.
    Compared to top marathon times that is ± 1/6 slower or les distance covered per second.

    So – whereas at marathon pace 20km/h – 5.55m is covered per second. At Comrades pace we have to deduct a 1/6 off which gives us about 4.6m per second.

    How often do we see players advance at that pace in a game?

    In a game where the ball is in play about 23 – 27 min average in 80 min.
    WTF are these lumps of shit doing!!!

    Why are the being paid the amounts of money???
    What are their speed, endurance and power training ???

    What are the coaches doing???

    FFS people marathon athletes run faster over 42 km.
    COMRADES athletes run FASTER over 90km !!!

    What is going on that we keep on believing these rugby lumps of shit are athletes!!!

    In Rugby running is vital – yet Comrades runners outpace our backlines ball-for-ball !!!

    To add perspective – fish-and-chips runners plod along at 6min per km. That is 10km/h and 2.27 m/sec or if you like in 3 eye-blinks.

    If a player closes his eyes in contact and a fish-and-chips runner approaches our WORLDCLASS Athlete would have missed the last 75cm of movement.

    Now remember our Worldclass Athletes not only mostly blink BUT they drop the heads and look at the floor (die Bloubul eet nie van die vloer af nie bwahahaha) that is MUCH looooonger timewise.

    Philipd would enjoy this and laugh his ass off !!!

  8. Morne @ 9.16
    Great read at RT
    Eish had me wiping tears – f*ck you for that – loved it sooo much.
    Great to be crying this time of the day about what somebody else write on the other side if the world. Amazing times we are living!!!

  9. @ Boertjie it is the Mindset bit I am mostly worried about – hence my Hierarchy of Options take!
    Until THAT changes – starting with the coaches nothing will chance!

  10. another great arty morne.

    boxing also teach you to keep your arms up. the way SBW holds his arms before going into defenders is very similar to the basic stance in boxing.

    but also dont discount physique. A boxers ligaments is simple stronger than that of the average rugby player.

    But you are right. SBW is not a great union player – he just brings to union that little bit of innovation that will make the game richer. And also force its players to look at other codes for inspiration.

  11. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 10:53 am:

    talking about cross training – One of my better players (still a newbie) is an ex-handball goalkeeper. His skill in the line-out is awesome! So comfortable with ball in hand and his reactions are the best in the team.

    Just shows you what other sports bring to your team.

    PS: Half of our Womens team are handball players, they are best at off-loading in contact and controlling/catching the ball often with only 1 hand.

  12. Reply to Morné @ 10:00 am:

    Out of reach for our coaches to get a team to master it,
    hence it gets pooh-poohed by people like Snor.
    Rather let them moer it up. Why change the ways they grew up with?

  13. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 10:58 am:

    So let’s get Die Jong, Bakkies, Juan Smith and the rest of the players into handball in the off-season.

    What off-season?

    Maybe they can do a bit of it instead of the usual boring and fruitless drills.

  14. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 10:58 am:

    used the example many times of tim lane and ozzie rules. He asked at some stage why rugby players cannot catch the ball ijn the air with straight arms? Why form a basket? When in Ozzie rules players can master this easily and often with oone hand only.

    I think maybe in union if we see a kid with ‘soft hands’ we label him a 10 or a 12 and henceforth every coach will only hone those skills.

    Maybe we should have a set of non-negotiable skills and ensure every kid gets up to a certain standard?

  15. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:02 am:

    I have even been called in once by the Austrian youth Ski team to do a rugby session with them in summer. All semi-pro athletes and amazing what they can do when given time

    unfortunately 1 guy tore ankle ligaments in the session and I have never been asked to repeat the cross training again :?

  16. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:05 am:

    again an example in my team – I have a few ex basketball players and the way they catch ball from the air is so effortless and against everything I was taught laughawie:

    Especially the way they run with the ball :? in one hand held like a handbag but it works for them and they can pass it in any direction at an instant!

  17. Reply to Morné @ 11:02 am:

    yip there is that old school mindset. my dad used to belong to that group also. Snors reaction to SBW is typical of that generation who think rugby is simple and therefore to explore new ideas is akin to being ‘fancy’.

    funny thing is the emergence of more black players in schools has forced coaches like my dad to alter their view. You get this black kid from welkom playing rugby for the first time and in the blink of an eye he does something so out of place, so un-coached, that is throws your whole team of boertjies off their wagon and you end up losing a game.

    Point is that black kid has had no coaching, which in many cases means he was spared a shit load of bad habits and conservative thinking!

  18. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 11:08 am:

    thats class. funny thing a mate in bhm told me last night that he knows rian viljoen from school days. apparently Rian was a rather talented soccer player with the township and farm kids etc. I dont know if this is true but he mentioned it in regard to Rians effortless ‘soft’ dribbling of the ball for his last try.

    Compare that to a ‘black’ player (from a posh rugby school) like habana who has no dribbling skills at all?

    but why need dribbling skills in rugby right?

  19. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:14 am:

    I played soccer at primary school.
    Scored two tries in my first match for high school dribbling.
    Scored the winning try in a tough koshuis game dribbling.
    Lost the ball in going over after a long dribbling session when touring with the school team.
    There is such a lot to say for encorporating the skills of other sports. But I can’t see us convincing the coaches.

  20. JT @ 11:02 hence the Hierarchy of Options formula – then all players are on same page – even when there are different Hierarchies for different players according to each palyer’s ability/skills level

  21. Reply to The Brand @ 11:18 am:

    I have different attacking situations that call for a different order to the options. BUT I don’t want to do this because it sets up a fix mindset and the players start to miss the clear opportunities.

    For example when we play wide and I have a 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 in space I want the guys to run angles and close supporting lines to the ball carrier so we can play the off-load game and when the forwards rumble it up a pick & go situation is called for! HOWEVER the forwards should keep the option open even in traffic to pop the ball to support runners – getting them to collectively make the smae call is the tough part! laughawie:

  22. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:17 am:

    no you are wrong. i have turned my dad around. its all about what we define as “basics”. he even argued the other day that a kid has a ball skills ‘virgin’ that once broken allows the kid to take in a wide range of skills.

    problem is that virgin in SA sense is usually broken around the age of 17 – a year before the O’ Connors of this world starts playing super rugby!

    If we can get that age to 14, we can do so much more.

    How do you get a prop’s hands “soft” etc. It takes time and a willingness to coach skills as opposed to game situations/set pieces etc. The solution could be a dedicated one month skills season where no games are scheduled.

  23. @ Boertjie 11:17 Brand jr does not watch rugby – he finds it TOO stupid !!!

    When he does sit down to watch he rips the tactics and strategies to pieces – mostly correct – to my pain !!!

    Then when they make the same mistake a 3rd time he simply gets up and walk away – a school friend of mine to him on the other day – and jr – spoiled the whole game. Each time something stupid was done jr highlighted it PLUS wat options were available that this professional players were too stupid to see and take. Halftime my friend asked jr to go read a book or play tafeltennis or something els. As he now just want to WATCH the game and not analyse te game sad.
    This is what the supporters want and it is what the coaches arew providing – supply and demand !!!

  24. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 11:22 am:

    funny thing if you have a 4 ON 4 with a little but of space you need the 4 attacker to simply run from depth, pass accurately and have a wing with speed. Logic suggests its almost impossible for the defender to stop this.

    see that try by the american wing versus habana….

    the offload suggests you have to make contact first. in my mind making contact should be option 2.

    Average De Villiers’ pass to Sadie was beautifully delayed and made all the difference. No offload necessary.

  25. Morne – I am afraid it is already too late for most Afrikaans boys.
    At Affies the hokkie is growing rapidly – to such a threatening extend IMO there is subtle efforts to stop the hokkie tide.

    Asking some big U/16 boys why they chose hokkie above rugby – the answered in the same ‘mind’ as jr – hokkie is not stupid !!!

  26. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:36 am:

    with a 4 on 4 my players do not have the skills to beat it the way you described yet – hence the angle of running and the off-load in or just before contatc to a support runner at pace on the shoulder is the easier way to do it.

    Work in progress – most of my players have only been playing for a year or 2 and started in their 20s!

  27. Reply to The Brand @ 11:29 am:

    I think thats why I have liked the REDS for the last 2 years. They usually play their games in the morning, which means I get to watch it by myself with no booze involved. So I get to analyse how they play a bit more – and learnt to appreciate their approach.

    Yet you have your mates around and a few beers and suddenly it can look as if the Reds are just flash-in-the-pans with fancy moves and no substance!

  28. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:36 am:

    the offload suggests you have to make contact first. in my mind making contact should be option 2.
    Jip. But our teams very seldom have the option at hand – that is my worry. And when the have it (by accident?) they usually fluff it,

  29. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 11:40 am:

    yeh that makes sense. eben scheeper (ex FS centre) told me how as grey boys they were forced to watch the Freestate games from behind the posts, so as to appreciate objectively just how much space there is on a rugby field.

    So when they play they did not panic when the ball came to the back. It feels like the defenders are up close but they are not. Pass properly, run straight at speed and the gaps will come (or the overlap).

    Maybe try that with your guys (have them watch from behind posts)

  30. Shields @ 11:36
    Hence my ‘stupid’ reference – off-load imply contact and should be 2nd option – drawing/committing defender 1st option and then simple pass before contact. Low risk!

  31. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:44 am:

    Actually rugby should also be televised mostly from behind the posts.
    Or at least many of the replays should be from behind the posts – on a widish shot. Seeing a runner close-up from the front (or with a camera crash panning to follow the movement on a mid-shot) contributes buggerall.

    Unless you want to read the ads on his jersey, or study his breathing pattern.

  32. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:44 am:

    very frustrating at times – imagine the latest situation… we are working on a very basic game-plan which runs over 6 phases but as I said before I do not want to tie their hands together and let them NOT play opportunities. Simple so far right?, WRONG – as soon as a player takes an opportunity there are some in the team that bitch about that guy NOT playing to the game-plan! Even though he made the right decision at that time and scored or set up a scoring opportunity. Team mates are wrong here because he saw the gap and took it.

    NOT DONE YET! Same player now thinks he is superman and think every time he gets the ball it is an opportunity which now makes his team mates right! How do I balnace the game-plan with heads-up rugby laughawie: :bangheadt:

  33. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:48 am:

    thesedays since speaking to you online i pay loads more attention to camerawork.

    thanks for fokkol.

    i already dislike and get pissed off by how dumb our rugby has become and now you have me fuming at the bloody camerawork also!

    Like we get to select english, afrikaans or xhosa for commentary i’d like the option to select the angles i want to view in a game. every scrum in my mind should be seen from behind the posts. This is when there is space on a filed but rather they show the fatties resetting 10 times.

  34. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 11:55 am:

    as soon as I concentrate more on heads up, play what is in front of you it becomes chaos… then I revert back to structured game plan and they become predictable drones…

    NOW for the best part: SOLUTION!
    When I change from one style to the other the transition period is when we play our best rugby Just keep changing and changing the focus!

  35. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:57 am:

    at least you get to see the f***ing games in good quality! I have to search the bloody web for a stream for the Friday morning and Saturday evening games! Only get the Saturday morning games on TV :censored:

    I am willing to PAY for the service but there is NO chance of getting it legally here! :bangheadt:

  36. Shields @ 11:57 bwahahaha reflect my own experience!!!
    Yes thanks for fokkol Boertjie bwahahaah.

    – am forever comparing camera angles and width during game – hahahaa

  37. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 12:04 pm:

    t least you get to see the f***ing games in good quality! I have to search the bloody web for a stream for the Friday morning and Saturday evening games! Only get the Saturday morning games on TV

    I feel your pain on that one. Drives me nuts to think that there is no carrier in Europe for the games and Sky is not available on the continent unless you pay an arm and a leg for it.

  38. JT another possible solution is to coach ‘meta’ to the game.

    All sport involving oppo – at ‘meta’ level is about out-maneuvering positions.

    As soon as you coach the manipulation not only of the individual oppo but the team as a whole – the players have to step-up to the higher level.

    Then taking an option ‘heads-up’ style can be evaluated at higher level of oppo manipulation in sync with own players responding effectively.

    Remember that Bulls U/21 player I coached who fooked their structure and the Bulls mostly played him from bemch to ‘safe’ games. As soon as he ‘got’ the meta-aim – he could be more ‘intelligent’ with his options and became much more valuable to the Bulls. His coach ‘verbaas’ commented about his ‘stepping-up/maturity’ as a player.
    The hierarchy still did not believe he changed and only want to contract him to keep him ‘inhouse’.

    Both gameplan and heads-up rugby is about manipulation oppo.

  39. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:57 am:

    I’ve tried to explain this before:

    It’s not the camerawork – that is in focus and steady.
    Each cameraman has a basic shot, i.e. wide, medium, close-up.
    It\’s the bloody producers/directors making the wrong cuts to cameras, like close-ups of a ruck when you cannot see who may be transgressing etc.
    Or having clos-ups of a player whilst missing the quick or normal lineout – something that happens way too often.

    Player receives a high ball = they often cut to him on midshot. So you have no idea of the chasers, the room he has to manoever in, why he kicks etc.

    Frustrates the hot shits out of me. They have so many more cameras and graphics etc. at their disposal, yet their BASIC coverage is much worse than when we had 5-6 cameras at our disposal.

    Worst part is the networks just pay for coverage, no feedback on quality, no standard procedure.

  40. Reply to The Brand @ 12:18 pm:

    yeah but then I need to work with the players a lot more than I currently have the time and opportunity to. We have 2 main trainings and 1 optional training a week. Each 1:30 long and then you need to work on EVERYTHING from passing and catching a ball, to rucking to defensive structures to tackling technique, to line-out and scrum positioning to going into contact the correct way to off-loading in and before contact to game-plan and then also don’t forget that some are not always available for training or games thus you have to shuffle players around or play a guy in a key position that might have missed a key training session

    BUT we keep at it :im a idiot:

  41. Hi Brand. I posted a question on Rugby-talk re how to address a loser mentality in a youth team on the arti referred to by Morne in an earlier post above. I would appreciate your input?

  42. Reply to Morné @ 10:00 am:

    “Off-loading in contact is as much dependent on the receiver as the off-loader.”

    It comes back to what I’ve said about support-runners…

    The Saders (and Kiwi/Aussie teams) have ‘always’ had multiple support runners on either side of the attacker in the past… not for the off-load per-say but so they can take a pass at pace and perhaps run angles… add someone that can actually take contact and off-load a sec or two later (rather than pass just as he draws his man) and hey presto… this is what SBW has at his disposal…

    Next level beats my bra!

  43. Ollie and JT

    I’ve heard about a webwerf named accross the tasman of so iets where all kinds of sporting matches may be found.

    I’ve also heard wild rumours that it is sometimes even in HD.

  44. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 10:53 am:

    “But you are right. SBW is not a great union player”

    How so… do tell?

    Just back to off-loading and my flavour of the month ‘support-runners’…

    Can anyone tell me which RSA back in the last 3-4 yrs has a huge physique… and for years had awesome off-loads in the tackle that unfortunately bamboozled his team-mates as they simply had no idea how to run support on each side of him on attack??

    Any takers before hints??

  45. Reply to Morné @ 8:46 am:

    The question is Morne.

    Why does it aggravate you when Naas, who is not a coach, say something stupid but you say nothing when the Bok coach make stupid statements on the same subject.

    Surely, such a view by PdV will be more harmful and is more deserving of your scorn.

    Apologies in advance if I missed it. :mrgreen:

  46. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:48 am:

    Interesting you should mention that… I’ve now been to AAMI stadium to watch the Rebels on 5 occasions…

    Obviously as I’ve stated out of the 15 or so worldwide rugby stadia I have been to… this is the most modernly designed one of the lot… with even the worst seat being only 49m from point of field… but I digress…

    In such a state-of-the-art ‘ergonomically’ designed stadium in which I have sat in all the best seats on the side… high and low… the cheap seats from behind the posts are the best viewing… go figure…

  47. Reply to bryce_shark_in_oz @ 4:04 pm:

    problem with UK proxy is that you still do not have the access to SKY – you have to be a customer etc They show all Games.

    Problem with “finding” streams is that the Stormers v Saders game of the weekend there was only 1 stream bringing the game and 2k streamers at the same time which crashed it a few times in the 2nd half. Could not watch it.

    “pay” HD streams – they are not on-line for long! Take your money and then get taken down – not much you can do because they are illegal! :?

  48. the best place to watch on-line is myp2p but that is only links to streams – on my iphone works well

    I useto use but that site has been taken down :roll:

  49. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 4:14 pm:

    I misunderstood you comment then, it reads like you need to have an IP address in the UK to access the Sky website to watch the games and that was where your problem was, not with the login details. If you don’t have those then you are scuppered and end up like me hoping that myp2p and vipstand actually show the game.

    It really p’s me off that we can’t get legitimate rugby on the continent. Any carrier wanting it here is totally out priced by the Sky’s of the world. :censored:

  50. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:14 am:

    Ironically your analogy is why RSA soccer players have been so crap for years… they’re too up for the flash dribbling and fancy tricks they cannot do the power shooting and intense defense… hence so many draw-less games…

  51. Minora – ek het vir 25 minute gepoog om 1 my ou password in te sit 2 her te registreer. Beide onsuksesvol tot nou.

    Jy kan my skakel by 07 131 50 747 indien ek nie regkom by RT.
    Sal sien hoe gou GBS my her-registreer

  52. A RT/RW merger might make for and interesting combo (and perhaps even a wee bit profitable for the owners)?

  53. Reply to JT_Stormers @ 4:16 pm:

    Streams are too much schlep and too poor quality. Worst thing is those chinese players.

    Rather search the forums on myp2p and you’ll find rapidshare links about 2 to 3 days after the game was played.
    Even better, use torrents. After a while you’ll be able to get into att.

    So I’ve heard.

  54. Heheheheheh

    In America that kinda blasphemy wouyld be grounds for a USD 400 million lawsuit from every company that has ever produced a record right down to Pixar and SKG Dreamworks! Jeeeezzz we might even get sued for hearing that you’ve heard how to use bitorrent…. oooooppsss…. did I say that? Just what I’ve heard when other people not associated with RW talk aboiut IT things I have no clue about….

  55. Reply to bryce_shark_in_oz @ 4:24 pm:

    good point bryce. its like SA soccer never bothered with the foundations. they just play with little structure or organisation.

    SA rugby on the other hand are over-reliant on structure.

    Pretty much sums up the differences between the western and african psyche

  56. Reply to DavidS the ashamed Lion @ 8:34 pm:

    The music industry have themselves to blame for their woes. Their product is a perfect match for the internet but they refused to use it until their prime customers found it for free.

    I had a mediazone subscription from the day they launched but I dropped it last year when they removed the download option. Dump the best feature from a good product and then shut down for a lack of customers. Go figure.

    I’m perfectly willing to pay a fair price to get rugby but they do not make it easy. As JT said, somebody owns the rights but don’t show the games. Here was confusion into January about where or if the games would be available. Then at the last moment it went onto directtv so if one do not have directtv already, you’d have to sign a 2 year contract to buy a whole bunch of crap you do not want to get to the stuff you want.

    And I won’t be able to watch games on a laptop in an airplane.

    No thanks. Until they embrace the internet, I’ll just use it to find out about the games.

  57. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 9:37 pm:

    It’s no coincidence Bafana were at their best and actually competed in the African Nations Cup when they had a mix of both in the days of Masinga, Radebe and captain Neil Tovey etc… before the wit ou’s were shunned and left for Europe…

    From that point on they were left with 11 Doctor Khumalo wanabee’s… they could dribble all day long with flashy tricks… but not score nor defend properly…

  58. Reply to The Brand @ 10:34 pm:

    @Brand – remember that young lock I told you about!? Well he has been named as starting lock this weekend against Denmark!
    :respek: :wave:
    I will be in Vienna on saturday to support the young man personally I am sooooo happy for him! in a few years i predict he will be NT captain.

  59. Line-up for Austria v Denmark:
    1-Payer,2-Farkhondeh Fal,3-Müller :wave: ,4-Gaul,5-Kolb :wave: ,6-Krauchenberg,7-Liska,8-Yassari,9-Navas,10-Glock,11-Zöchling,12-Radomirov,13-Leidl,14-Johannik,15-Wever
    Subs: Chiu,Borer,Pollak,Dachler,Forchtner,Aslanyan,Kerschbaumer

    PS: Glock and Wever are the ex Sharks academy players.

  60. JT @ 102

    Well done to you!!!

    I am currently coaching a 2nd team St8 boy in cricket – he got some exposure in 1st team – and coaches were OK-ish about his performance during 1st quarter (only rugby in 2nd quarter) 3rd q cricket starts again with an England tour.

    I am so excited about his transformation – parent feedback confirms my take on change in the young man.

    So I share somewhat your joy in success of youngsters.

    I have been working with 3 matrics and they are hitting their straps ‘perfectly’ – they are the 3, 4 and 5 bat – the youngster should become 6 this year and 4 next year.
    Eish awesome times!!!

  61. Hi all

    An excellent discussion as always, to a great piece, Morne. Thanks for the heads up.

    Apologies if I am repeating things – I scanned some sections quite quickly.

    I think one must remember that necessity breeds invention, and so while I am not an expert on rugby league, the fact that you can’t run ten phases and keep possession has driven the need to learn how to keep the ball alive, and this is what drives the development of the skill SBW has. That skill has never been “necessary” in rugby, because setting up phases is a limitless process. Why bother with a pass that maybe has an 80-20 chance of coming off when you can take the ball through another phase, maybe win a penalty and win your own ball 95% of the time?

    So SBW has evolved (much in the same way as survival of the fittest works in a Darwinian sense) a skill that few had really thought was going to be effective and was not viewed as necessary. Or rather, not that it is effective (because offloads in tackles are not exactly new), but rather a skill that coaches feel is not too risky to attempt. I suspect that offloads are tried by 10-year olds, fail (simply because the skill level is not high enough, and probably in the team-mate who can’t catch an unexpected pass) and that this skill is then coached out of players by the age of 13. Instead, the message is set rucks up.

    So rugby suffers from a “myopia” in that it has collectively failed to recognize the potential of the future. This happens because people actually think they know more than they do. Why bother creating something new when you already know all the answers? I think Bill Gates once said that he didn’t think the internet had a major role to play in communication…to his credit, as soon as he recognized his mistake, he adapted.

    So what would be most interesting to me is to know how SBW learned the game (league and union). Who coached him and did they encourage, ignore or discourage that late pass? did he only develop that skill at league?

    Many of you have recognized the reason for this – conservatism. Which I guess is often confused with stupidity, and they’re linked but not necessarily the same. Conservative mentality is one that fails to value new ideas enough, and it is just too risk averse. And it is largely the result of being uninformed or deliberately ignorant (which is why much of the USA is so conservative). But it’s myopic because the coach actively pulls in the opposite direction of where the game is maybe going.

    I think good coaches need to see the future – I know for example that when Jake White applied for the Springbok job, he presented to SARU that the game was evolving, and that possession was no longer king. He presented stats to the Executive committee to make the point that winning teams were making MORE tackles, kicked more often and had less ball. That this ultimately drove the introduction of ELVs at the global level says a lot for foresight. Those ELVs have now changed the game again, and most recently, the laws around the ruck seem to be making it more and more difficult to steal the ball on the ground. As a result, we see fewer defensive players committed to rucks, with coaches recognizing that they’re only going to win turnovers when a ball carrier is properly isolated. So defenses are fanning out, not committing.

    So what’s next? more phases, less kicking (the stats bear this out), but to unlock defences, I’d say the next priority for coaches is to find players who can keep the ball alive, but in contact, so that they disrupt defences, create space but still keep the ball alive. Enter SBW. in a sense then, he’s come along at just the right time. It may be that others had tried this before, but it wasn’t as necessary – yet again, a skill that maybe once was discouraged is now being encouraged, because it’s a slightly different game.

    The acid test, and this is an illustration I’ve used for Olympic sports before, is “What would SBW be doing if he was a South African?”. Would he be putting his outside centres and wings into space? Doubt it…so he’s found a coach and a team that fit with his skill.

    By 2013, most backline players will probably have to have this skill. Coaches will now encourage rather than discourage the pass and a skill will emerge.

    Whether it can be coached, I don’t know. I suspect it is more a case of allowing natural to happen, well, naturally.

    As for the filming and viewing games from behind, I can relate one story from my experience at the SA Sevens. We had a player get injured three days from a tournament, but Paul Treu chose to keep him for the remaining two weeks of the tour for his leadership involvement off the field. He was given the task of sitting as high up in the stands as possible, behind the goal post, and communicating with the coaches at the side of the field. Looking at shape, opposition line, our defensive press etc.

    Two tournaments doing that, and this player’s insight grew exponentially, and once the injury had healed, he seemed to play the game in slow motion – time on the ball was up, decision-making improved, he seemed to always have an extra second, and I’m convinced that the making of this player (rather, the improvement) was as a result of seeing the game from a different side.

    It pays to think differently. Not to accept roles and stereotypes and conformity. Sadly, this is a rare commodity in SA rugby! :pot:


  62. Just to add…

    Is it possible that SBW learned the game playing with older, stronger players…?

    This this pretty well described phenomenon is sports called the relative age effect. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about it in Outliers, which some may have read.

    Basically, it turns out that at junior national level, the majority of players who get national colours are born in Jan, Feb or March. in fact, I looked at some published data, and in soccer, ice-hockey and SA Rugby, the total is that 53% of junior players are born in those months (check the SA Under 20 Bok squads for comparison).

    The reason is that a child born in January will play Under 11 rugby against children born in November or December. But they’re 10 months older and at that age, 10 months is a huge difference. So January births are bigger, stronger, faster.

    Coaches of course recognize this as “talent” and so they tend to pick the early births, and the teams are then separated out. Better coaching, better competition, and more playing time is given to the Jan, Feb and March births.

    So why is this relevant? I wonder whether in SA rugby, we don’t make a similar error, and over-value size and speed and strength (yeah, yeah, that’s not exactly a revelation!)

    But let’s take a guy with similar physique to SBW, Pierre Spies. I dare say maybe even more impressive. I wonder whether he’s learned the skills to be able to execute those back of the hand passes, or the vision to see them, given that from a young age, his “value” to his coach was his physique?

    And relating this to SBW, I suspect that he wasn’t always the biggest guy in the backline. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the smallest (hence my opening question!), because once again, being smaller would have forced him to learn something different.

    Necessity, once again…breeds invention. It’s real-life evolution – adapt or die… Makes a case for trying to get rid of discrepancies in weight and size at the junior level…

    P.S. That relative age effect, incidentally, disappears at the senior level. So the cream will rise to the top, eventually. It’s just a question of whether it’ll have the skill when it gets there!!!

  63. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 10:50 am:

    P.S. That relative age effect, incidentally, disappears at the senior level. So the cream will rise to the top, eventually. It’s just a question of whether it’ll have the skill when it gets there!!!

    Or the opportunity to get there in the first place especially given how relatively concentrated our talent spotting is in SA with our set structures (read Craven Week).

  64. Shit Dr Tucker I dont even know where to start.

    Thanks for the insight anyways and for devoting your time on this blog.

    Let me start by generalizing: its fair to say that skills are left behind from under to under 14 purely because coaches only use the big kids to ram through the small ones. Skills are totally secondary to winning.

    I coached an under 9 clinic the other day and told the kids to get their hands over the tackle by attacking the swing arm of the defender. The minute I illustrated what is required, a kid put up his hand and said: “but oom, our coach tells us to run with our shoulders down so they cannot tackle us hard!”

    And so every kid just takes the ball up and makes contact, shoulder down, ala Burger.

    Luckily I can now say to kids: go watch rugby Saturday and look at Israel Dagg and SBW’s arms when they run with the ball. The hands are up, always looking for that offload (or dummy). At least there are positive roll models on TV again so i dont have to show them videos of Danie Gerber anymore!

  65. Another example of ‘other sports’ and how they can better rugby:

    I played under 19 club rugby for Lansdowne Road in Dublin. In my team was a flanker who also represented Ireland under 18 as a soccer player. His peripheral vision was just so much better than any of us – to the point where he had to reign in his instincts so as to not confuse us with his passes and running lines. Scary. Will Genia plays a similar game. Moving laterally is never a negative for him – a means to an end. Compare that with Kankoski, who is like a crab and it hardly ever works for him.

  66. Reply to the cheetahs are pumas! @ 11:24 am:

    add to that – Basketball, the ball feeling is great, the ability to catch and pass in any position is great but even more important is their ability to listen! They are use to a lot of movement in all directions around them and they LISTEN for the right moment to slip the ball to a team mate who is running into space. Communication is good but if you can listen it makes all the difference.

    I’ll be trying to get my players playing basketball in the winter break here. I am already organizing Rugby league tournaments for our summer break

    Thanks Doc – great insight again! :respek:

  67. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 10:41 am:

    By 2013, most backline players will probably have to have this skill. Coaches will now encourage rather than discourage the pass and a skill will emerge.
    Thank heavens Snor won’t still be around then, considering what he said about SBW.

  68. Thing is… ironically SBW is not a phenomenon in rugby league here in Aus for his ‘off-loads’ it was for his huge hits…

    Off-loading has been part and parcel for years in the NRL from the Mal Meninga’s to Wally Lewis’ to the Gordan Tallis’ to the Brad Thorn’s to the Lote Tuquir’s to the to the…

    As has been the tactical kicking on 5th phase towards the try-line… the Alfie Langer’s to the ET’s to the El Masri’s to the Hodgesons…

    Mug punter’s in union are only just awakening to all this due to SBW and a few before him…

  69. To Bryce_shark:

    Thanks for the info – that’s exactly what I’d have expected from League, because it’s so necessary to learn these skills in order to succeed in the game. Much like it’s necessary in basketball (good illustration, JT_Stormers) to hold the ball up and slip a bounce pass off in any direction. I’d guess that this ability is probably on a “report card” that a coach in those sports would look at and say “there’s a guy who works as part of my team”. Union, however, has never thought to include this skill on its checklist, preferring instead to look for guys who drive forward in contact and present the ball effectively on the ground. I dare say, like Cheetahs are Pumas says, it’s on the list of “things to uncoach” from young players!

    Changing game, changing skills, and it’ll be interesting to see how the game evolves. Of course, it is possible to interfere with the tackle-offload and that might negate the appearance of this skill in more players. SBW might find that by the World Cup, a defensive pattern has emerged specifically for him. Be interesting to see how he responds, and his coaches, because in theory, other players will benefit from what SBW does NOT do…


  70. Just found this article, I’m sure most of you have read it:

    I’m sure there is a way to quantify the “cost-benefit” ratio of this kind of skill. Maybe to ask how often failure to execute the skill costs points versus how often successful execution results in points. I suspect this calculation will produce a positive outcome, unless one tries this kind of pass on your own 5m line. Carlos Spencer probably cost his side a few points a match. I’d still encourage the development of the skill though


  71. I like watching Sunnypants. I couldn’t find his reach ( I did see his “boxing” career was against middle aged easy beats – puh-lease).

    He is long and has big hands (but still only 6’3). Basically a basketball type. Due to this he can do the “reach around” pass while he has a dude or two draped on his torso.

    His ultimate secret is the blanket like support. I figure 8/10 times he could just throw the ball over his head without looking and somebody on his team would grab it. It’s a blast to watch and even though I jest a bit I’m impressed by his accuracy and vision.

    That said, Jake White would be salivating at the chance to spring some of that defensive ambush stuff were he at a helm. Any intercepts off him this year?