An analysis of the evolution of the Springbok attack


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There is a new point of difference between the offensive play of the Springboks and that of the Rugby Championship.

In the past, they sought to strike the ball in the air on sets of “silver ball” leather clogs. Now they’re looking to use their running backs to get the guys on the ball and even start playing extended runs of attacking build phases.

So it’s no wonder they take No 10’s who are “guys with a skill set,” as Quade Cooper puts it. Take a look at Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies – both have long passing range, good spin quality, and a lethal attack option. It’s better that they now use their primary playmakers to create instead of just going to the skies.

How does this play into Boks’ strategy?

The Springboks’ offensive principle was demonstrated in Makazole Mapimpi’s crucial try against the All Blacks: to pay with power and sharpen the line so they can strike into the 15-yard channel.

Springbok test run hosted by Pollard, performed by Faf and brilliantly finished by Janjities

No.10 (Pollard) gives a strong short ball for a crash as he challenges the maul line. He then orders the second and third pods to strike the defense at an angle on a wide pass from Faf de Klerk. Finally, Pollard gets embarrassed by shouting for the ball, drawing the defense’s attention. Jantjies cleverly hid as a secondary playmaker in this form, floating across the pitch in the second receiver.

As the defense rushes to Pollard, who is the first receiver in the 15-yard-wide channel, a failed pass to Jantjies and good hands create the try.

Playmakers float behind the pods, direct the power play and develop the attack with or without touching the ball before stepping in and exploiting when the ball reaches the 15-yard channel and / or the defensive line is thinned.

The Springboks built their attack on Wales on the same principle.

They threw a few wide-to-wide set pieces, focusing instead on quality passing and skillful pullers when creating in the 15-yard channel. This was evident in the performance of their pivot of the day, Pollard. He made four assists in the event of a line break – two were quality passes, two were kicks. Of four of those assists, only one was a flat pass from deep on a hard hitting play from Damian de Allende. The other three were due to No. 10 operating the 15-meter canal.

Handre Pollard (Photo by Stu Forster / Getty Images)

Phase development
No.10 (Pollard) hits the ball especially when there are holes or half holes for him to attack, and he takes over in the 15-yard channel to exploit the defense.

Pollard’s standing depth in the flat, crisp pass over a hard line gives De Allende time to step up and bust the frenzied line. As they play through the phases, Pollard floats through the terrain, integrating behind front pods as he orders a crash to reset their multi-layered attack.

The following scenario is a bit messy. Pollard takes a lousy pass from the front basket and trips a ball inferior to Kwagga Smith – his arm had been slapped and his pass was illegally sabotaged – in a half-gap, and Smith can still use his acceleration and agility to take a good break through the half gap. This generates an overlap in the 15 meter channel, and the Boks attack to strike skillfully in that precise area.

Pollard stabs Mapimpi through a grubber, who unfortunately misses a chance to try to score 50-50.

Exploit defense in the 15 meter channel attack in the wide area
The 15-meter channel is where most of the Boks’ offensive flourishes and line breaks have come this season. They attack using a powerful attacking power play to maintain defense, with No.10 leading the game and stepping in to give precise distribution when needed. As the ball progresses through the 15-meter channel and the defensive line is thinned, the playmaker brings the ball to the line and initiates the attack.

Handre Pollard Line Break Aid

Pollard (# 10) spots the space in the 15-meter channel and loops from the depths. He brings the ball flat to the line, engages Adam Beard and frees Siya Kolisi in the trams with a precise sparkling pass. The captain makes a monster transport and brings the Springboks up onto the field.

Its looping run is not shown here, but it is certainly available in full game footage.

There was a much faster ball with Herschel Janjities in the scrum half – because his kicking game is less assertive, the Boks have moved on to more extended rugby. They seek to hammer hard in the middle and hit wide, so they don’t need too many complex strikes.

The 15 yard channel is the best place to strike, and if they can keep progressing, they will have effective attacking play that can even be exciting at times.

In the future, they will have to decide whether or not they want to have an additional playmaker on the team. In the first gif we can see the main pivot leading the game from the first receiver while the second playmaker hides under the first pivot to strike skillfully once the attack develops into a good position.

Essentially the main playmaker (# 10) creates and develops the attack while the secondary playmaker (Willie le Roux / Elton Jantjies) is a visionary striker who can complete the attack with good use of defense. opposing.

Do they persist with Le Roux at No.15, which can lead to a fractured attack where over-integration results in the excellence of any of the playmakers? Or do they choose a rear who can create but is primarily a common threat to allow Pollard to lead the attack on his own? That new kind of full-back could be Frans Steyn, who has a massive boot, great assists and, most importantly, high power. Or it could be Warrick Gelant, a creative wide striker.

Pollard is an absolute all-rounder with an excellent passing game to create subtle chances and formidable kicking play, and he’s a confident decision maker. He now floats behind the front pods and is better connected to the offensive form, directing the game and developing it on the pitch.

All the flourishes in the 15-yard strike zone were in his hand against Wales, meaning he can complete an attack on top of developing it. This should be enough to facilitate the new attack patterns of playing smart and hitting 15-yard areas.

Hence my question: is a world-class No.10 enough to make the Boks’ evolved attack work, or do they need a second playmaker in Willie le Roux at No.15? or Elton Jantjies on the bench?


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