Die Pypkan


Or for our English readers,”The side-step”.

I have recently come across this tendency from young players where either the ball is kept in both hands (this by the way is the correct technique as advocated by Boksmart), or have the ball in the wrong hand (as seen on this GIF)

Step off right foot

This is in contrast to the old school philosophy whereby we were taught to have the ball in the hand of the foot that gets planted, and then to immediately transfer the ball onto the ‘outside’ hand, as you can see on this and countless other videos of a bygone era:

Old School

Or as seen here from our old mate Quade Cooper, who has a similar step to those Fijians who excel at Sevens.


What I do see is kids merely ‘changing direction’ as opposed to stepping. For example in a group of 20 kids I only saw one player step from 12 O Clock to 3 of clock off his right foot, whereas the rest all stepped to 4 and 5 o clock, which is nothing more than a slight change in direction. Is the ability to step still required in the modern game, and if so – are players today being coached this skill differently?






Facebook Comments


  1. Stepping is an individualist action. An expression of the self and the self only. A team filled with great steppers is not a team, it’s a group of individualists who will fail whenever they oppose a functional team.

    A team can afford to contain, at most one good stepper, but he should also have an exceptional pass, like Cooper, else his natural tendencies towards the selfish would be too destructive.

  2. There you go.

    I’m completely clueless about the mechanics of the “pypkan” but I’m fearlessly opining on the philosophy.

  3. I remember former Zee Bull Etienne Botha having really good aftrap if memory serves…..

    Aldo please commiserate with your Zee Bull Dark Minions & confirm

  4. Hoessit, Tjops.

    @Christo (Vetgesmeerde Blits): Sover my kennis strek is pypkan = aftrap, ‘dummy’ = fopaangee. Het nie ‘n verklarende woordeboek om seker te maak nie en ‘n tweetalige aanlynwoordeboek vertaal dit as ‘dummy’ (maar hulle aanvar lesersbydraes, so nie altyd 100% oortuig van korrektheid nie). Oom Boer, help ‘n bietjie?

    In my opinion the basic/old-school sidesteps can be taught/learned and they can serve a purpose. I’d say the modern/Cooper/Fiji-type is an individual attribute and not that easy to teach/learn. You either got it or you don’t, agree with Timeo there.

    As for the ‘basic’ sidesteps:
    The first is just a change in direction, i.e. running straight and then step & change direction to hopefully evade your potential tackler. I think this can be effective in an uneven one-on-one match up, a faster attacking player should have enough speed to run around/past a slower defender. It also has potential where the tackler is running at you from an angle (eg. cross cover). Also, I think it can help in some crash-ball situations – a slight change in direction just before contact so you hit an arm instead of the torso and do Methos’s Samoan sidestep.

    The next is a little more elaborate, running and then step twice or 3 times even and do a ‘dummy’ change in direction to evade the tackler. So left-right/right-left (or l-r-l/r-l-r) with the idea being you want to get your tackler off balance and commit his momentum to the side you’re NOT going. It might need a little bit more time & space to execute than the former, hence the ‘need’ for the former as well as this one.

    Of course things like available space, timing, speed how to carry the ball need to be considered too. But I have used both sidesteps to good effect in different in-game situations, granted it’s just club rugby but at least there is some evidence in my mind that it can work!
    Now I’m no athletic or biomechanics trainer but it should not be that hard (to some extent) to teach/learn – a simple repetitive drill like in the picture where the player runs at a cone and does the step/steps. Muscle memory, right?

  5. Thanks for that namboer. I think a lot of skills thesedays and the coaching thereoff should be seen much in the way the K53 driving test is used.

    Some aspects of that test no-one ever uses in its true form or some of the skills are hardly ever needed, but its still worth teaching a ‘pure’ version of a skill.

    I learnt to step in the backyard because my brother and cousins were all much older. Looking back it was also never really taught at school.

    Its wrong though not to teach even props how to move and be a bit more elusive when they run. Its funny looking at hours of footage of young players you clearly pick up when you meet a player who CAN step. Immediately you will reason that if all the other kids can do it the side will be a much better attacking force. But in rugby pragmatism seems to win the day and nobody wants to be seen coaching the ‘fancy’ stuff?

  6. Really can’t remember if we spent time on sidesteps in school rugby. I do recall doing those drills sometimes in club rugby practices.
    A fellow club player (prop) told how he was called up from koshuisrugby as cover for Maties (or Maties u/21 maybe, I’m not 100% sure), last part of practice was running a goose-step and you were only allowed to leave once you got it right. Apparently him and a few other burly chaps had themselves a looong night!

  7. Mannetjies Roux was probably the master in
    Joke went around that when he sidesteps a guy,
    the opponent then afterwards had to ask:
    “On which side did he pass me? Left or right?”

  8. BTW pypkan = dummy

    From the Dutch pypkan = milk flask with a teat for a baby (replacing the real thing). I.e. dummy, misleading.

  9. @Boertjie: Dankie Oom Boer en jammer Christo, dan het ek dit nog heeltyd verkeerd!

    @Boertjie: Het al daai ene gehoor, wens ek het meer van Mannetjies Roux geweet (omtrent al wat ek weets is die Laurika Rauch-song en “en hy DRUK hom!”)

    Blykbaar het Bryan O’Driscoll vir een van die Nam vleuels voor hulle 2007 WB wedstryd ‘n bietjie raad gegee. Hy’t home gesĂȘ: “I’m going step left, then step right en then go back left and run around you.” Wat hy natuurlik ook gedoen het!