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The 7 most important attacking principles – according to chess

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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!

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12 COMMENTS

  1. yep, rule no 1 is all that’s needed, lets not confuse hulle.

    At the moment, the other side has absolutely skoon fokol to fear from the Bok. What a sorry state of affairs. Everything the Bok does not stand for.

  2. If I may make a most learned and erudite suggestion then perhaps is it not time to play that Goosen chap at 12 inside Lambie. I am a bit disconnected from SA rugby these days but Alberts at 6 looked nonsensical. And does Ben Youngs now own that Du Toit chap?

    The journos here politely describe the boks at being at the bottom of the cycle. I fear we’ve only seen the start of the downturn?

  3. The Boks did this most bizarre lineout move 5m from their own line.

    Strauss passed to Piage in the front. Paige passed strait back to Strauss who promptly fell down without a tackler being anywhere near him and Paige bend over to form the ruck. The England players were mostly flabbergasted. So was I. Does any one has an inkling as to what the point of the move was? There must be something. It was clearly planned.

  4. @Timeo:

    I doubt it… it’s the same as playing 5 LO jumpers in the pack and then never kicking for territorial touch and not contesting a single opposition throw… heads-scratch stuff.

  5. @bryce_in_oz: @Timeo:

    This is what I could not understand, you load your team with lineout jumpers and not contest or use the power of your lineout> What the hell.

    And add to that Timeo’s example straight out of the bizarre, it does shows the players have also now lost the plot under this “coaching”.

    No wonder the guys look so demotivated and disinterested on the field. They must clearly be wondering what the hell are they doing there.

  6. @Craven:

    Scores of examples… another one… Finally they break into the 22 after some decent pick-n-driving… a few gaps out wide they get the ball swinging to De Allende… and the guy (who I have never seen kick a ball) decides to try and chip the ball… result goes over try-line and the awaiting cover simply takes a few steps and dots down. WTF! And as per norm they did not even attempt to contest yet again…

    The list goes on and on…

  7. This team is worse and more disorganised than the 2002/3 era… from selections, to game-plan, to almost every facet of play.

    All the great coaches have had a vision and selected players based on buying into that vision and being suited to playing out that vision. Jake White and Hansen have said the same thing over and over. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt at the start of the season, then his assistants were selected, and although there was not much time to prepare… it became evident pretty quickly that their was no improvement in all of the above from test-to-test… and he continues to blame the players. If he’s to stay another year with Stick… next year could more than likely be even more dire and the death-knell…

  8. I see in the local media Coetzee has yet again threatened his players with dire consequences because they lost saying “koppe gaan rol”

    The fuck?????

    I have no words…

  9. @DavidS:

    Yep he’s blamed the players after almost every loss since he took over… and many times at WP… this is his latest…

    “‘Players will have to learn how important individual errors are in big Tests and take responsibility. If we need to pick different players to make this team stronger, we will.’”

  10. @bryce_in_oz:

    This from a ‘real coach’ (Mallet) on the incident…

    “‘The first defender has to defend a metre away from the ruck and not in the ruck. He controls the pick-and-go and anyone coming back on the inside pass.

    ‘The second tackler’s role is to make the inside tackle on the first receiver and to control the scrumhalf. Twice today Ben Youngs ran across the field and the second defender, Pieter-Steph du Toit, does not control him. He goes for the intercept first and then he doesn’t know who to go for. Youngs sold him two dummies which led to two tries. If Du Toit knew what his role was, he’d smash Youngs in the tackle, he’d kill him I believe. The third defender has to take the first receiver after the flyhalf.

    ‘It’s a lack of understanding what their roles are and what they must do. That is the result of having three different defensive coaches in six months. It confuses the players.”

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