Ok riddle me this….
How can we play like that and its ok, or It’s the only way we know how to play, or it’s the way we choose to play and we think its ok!
How can we keep playing with that defence?
I am fortunate to know how this defence even came about. It was brought over by Brendon Venter to the Cheetahs in 2004. It comes from a rugby league background, where you have a little more time to set up, hence why they always buying time fighting with guys in the tackle, this defence also works in the UK where the games tend to be slower due to rain and muddy conditions….but as you can see, it gets dismantled when there is quick ball….
So Brendon brought it from the UK and taught us at the Cheetahs, back when Jacques Nienaber was still a physio…..It was exciting and different, a complete nightmare for a fly-half, because as you look up the opposition 14 is standing or lining up your 13. It rushes you and half the time it forces you the fly-half to take it up as you run out of options…..
We ran a few plays and it looked amazing for the defence, guys were picking up men and taking them back….step up Kennedy Tsimba who was watching all of this, Kenny says I can bust this defence(Kennedy having played in the UK knew this defence) to everyone’s amazement….Kenny was so confident, called a backline of his own, with guys he knew would be able to.
First move we ran around them and they didn’t believe it. two more times going round the outside….next he bust it in the middle….all this to a very unimpressed Brendon Venter….That year it worked and we ended up reaching the Final of the Currie Cup, but it was only cos no one knew how to counter it. Jacques Nienaber took it forward and he having worked at the Cats began his career as a defensive coach.
Problem with this defence, is that it is predictable, it should be used as a surprise, once in a while, when needing to get the ball back or something, but if you coming up everytime one man in….your outside is always open, and you are vulnerable at post, or guard 2 or whatever you wanna call it. So how can we keep playing the same defence when its obvious that the AllBlacks and Australians and basically everyone knows how to bust us…Swivel passes, run arounds(loops) and inside balls unlock that defence.Because, if my 13 has their 14 lining him up surely their 14 is somewhere that I can use for my advantage, so as a flyhalf I just do a swivel pass with my 12, buying even more time for that 14 to commit fully to my 13, then I just hit behind him, I have my blind wing, fullback and other wing running at the fullback….its hard to scramble cos the scramble is coming from way inside. Speaking of inside the other way is to commit your man and inside ball is on from 12 cos other 10 only moves up straight, remember he is not shifting, therefore he is suspect to someone running at pace on his outside shoulder.
So why do we stick to this defence pattern where everyone looks uncomfortable. PSDT was caught twice in no man’s land, now that can’t be the player of the year getting something wrong, it’s a player that is confused of who to tackle….or where to stand…him playing flank…well that’s a story for another day.
Rugby is a simple game, we just complicate it. As I write this I’m on my way to the great Basil Bey’s memorial in Cape Town, wanted to write this straight after the game, actually started writing but then realised I was way too emotional. So took some days and I’ve cooled off.
So Basil would say, “if you can get your tighties to run onto their loosies, and you get your loosies to run onto their backs, surely your backs will run into space…” But nooo we Springboks wanna run tighties into tighties and loosies into loosies etc etc and we not even trying to run an angle, or run at branches, we want to run straight into the trunk….and now that the rest of the world has done the work in the gym, the big bully Suid Afrikaner mentality gets shown flames.
We in South Africa need to stop defending and thinking that’s my man, what if they do a good move and now your man isn’t yours anymore…We need to understand defending the SPACE…
So lets say you have a ruck, Pillar(Guard1), Post(Guard 2), Ball( Third man) that’s it…simple…Pillar watches inside ball, Post watches Scrummy, Ball…obvious!! Ball takes the line up, his Space is everything outside him, up and across, anything inside of the fourth is his, I like to think of it as constantly defending one and a half…
That’s it, fullback should hardly be stuck with three people running through, and he is also not forced to charge into the line to fill up numbers, and one thing with the SA defence, Scrummy in the line is a no no!! Scrummy is your second line, he is actually like in Rowing, your Cox, he is the general shouting far side, stick, drift, ball out etc etc…he covers chips and grubbers.
Look how many grubbers and kicks end up falling behind our fullback, even if that blind wing is on his strings,(wings on strings) he can never get to that ball. So shift ball wide and the fullback joins the line, kick over his head and there is no one there!!
So I hope deep down that the Springboks understand that this defence does not work….and change so accordingly.
Because, right now we are going gently into the night, and no one is raging against the dying of the light that is Springbok rugby.
Place of Birth: Paarl
High School: Bishops High School
Craven Week: WP (1999)
Provincial Caps: 35 (5 Griffons, 8 Lions, 22 Free State)
Provincial Points: 35 (Free State)
Provincial Debut: Griffons (2000)
Other Representative Honours:
Free State 2003-2004
SA U/21 Training Squad 2001
IRB U21 World Cup (2002)
Golden Lions U/21 Squad 2002