No I haven’t suddenly decided that a solid defense should not be your first point of departure. It alone has never once won games, but without it you cant win either.
A healthy balance is needed, sadly we can’t do either at the moment. I have looked at the Chess masters and realized that we need these same attacking principles in rugby.
1.Always create a threat with your move.
Creating a threat with every move is one of the most important principles in Chess. Same applies to rugby, if you attack, every move and play should threaten, as this makes the opponent unsure and puts them on the back foot.
It prevents them from anticipating your next move. It also prevents the opposition from coming into position to plan their next move.
2. Exploit your opponents weakness.
Weaknesses come in different shapes and forms. Often they need to be created before you can exploit them. The English did this so well yesterday. They realized our pillar defense was non existent, because our big pack was just to slow.
Two of their tries came because of this. Our fielding of the ball from kicks were just as poor and we saw one penalty and try scored by England as a direct result of this.
3. Concentrate your pieces before an attack.
In chess, you need to make all necessary preparations before attacking. I hate going to the All Blacks to prove this, but they use the diamond attack a lot. At every set move, their will be one player to the left, one to the right and one behind the player with ball in hand.
This means the defense does not know who will receive the ball next. It creates doubt if you give them space and it causes gaps to open up. By concentrating all chess pieces in the area where you want to attack, you have more available resources and greater possibility of success. Seems the same is true in rugby.
4. When you’re attacking, open files, ranks and diagonals.
This is a common sense rule, yet many players ignore it. When attacking, it makes sense to open up spaces for your rooks and bishops to use. In rugby this would equal to creating space out wide for your wings.
The centers need to straighten, Full back must join at pace and the ball must do the work. At the Boks yesterday, almost all our attacks fizzled out, because our back-line went sideways and our passing was slow and poor. By the time the wings got the ball, if they got it, they had to come inside. Lost opportunities. We just don’t seem to know what to do with the ball.
5. Exchange off key defenders.
This is off utmost importance. When a back line player attacks, he should always look for a weak link in defense. It is not always the strongest defender you must look out for, but the players making up the gaps in between.
The forwards, especially tight forwards, defending centers and wings. Those are the gaps that should be exploited, yet we try and run over them.
6. When you have the initiative, avoid unnecessary exchanges.
In chess, when you have the initiative, you do not want to exchange pieces, less pieces means less attacking possibilities. Why then in rugby would our inside center ( a main component in successful attack), kick the ball in the opponent’s 22 against England.
You do not just give away the initiative like that! Giving the ball away is like swapping out chess pieces. You lose the initiative.
7. Attack on both sides of the board.
This is common sense. Focusing your attack on one string, is limiting and makes defense easy. You need more than one option on attack, from clever kicks, to drop goals, to running lines, to the maul. Everything should be used and this keeps the opposition guessing.
So that is a quick take from me on what we are not doing, anything you would like to add? Because let’s face it, the list is much longer than this!