One-dimensional rugby: are set pieces to blame?
All of the recent talk here on The Roar regarding the performance of the Australian Super Rugby teams has revolved around a couple of key points.
The continual discussion has presented me with a nagging question: Do the teams in the Australian conference rely too heavily on set-piece moves?
There has been a lot of commentary on the coaching staff and their various abilities (or more correctly their lack of abilities), the slow service from rucks, the one dimensional plays…oh and the kicking, the endless kicking.
Could all of these factors be connected?
The realisation for me is that all of the Australian teams, especially the Waratahs, are overly concentrating on set-piece plays, to the almost total exclusion of open, unpredictable, expansive and innovative play.
How many times have we seen this season at the ruck, the halves stand around waiting for the players to all get into position, and then telegraph their next move which breaks down? The waiting until everyone is set is really the beginning of a set-piece n’est-ce pas?
The one dimensional play falls into this scenario as the play makers are merely looking to set up a set-piece, so when it doesn’t come together they fall back into the same pattern waiting for the “right time”.
The kicking. The endless, pointless, boring kicking to nowhere. Yet another symptom of the set-piece malaise. Can’t get everyone into the right place? The opposition won’t co-operate and let you form up the set-piece? Run out of ideas? Kick it. Doesn’t matter where, just kick the damn thing and let someone else have to think about what to do next.
The coaches are as much to blame as the players for this.
Do they over-practise set-piece plays? Has this strangled the natural flair and “rugby brains”?
Do the coaches work on innovative, unpredictable play? Or do they just run the set-piece drills over and over until the players can no longer think for themselves?
I wonder how the Ellas and Campo would have fared under such a tightly controlled regime?