In April, in the shadow of COVID-19’s impact on rugby in the region, NZ Rugby announced it would undertake a strategic review in conjunction with each of its professional franchises.
The Wallabies had an abysmal time with kick-off receptions against the All Blacks, and were punished severely. In the second test against the All Blacks the Boks were punished in much the same fashion.
So both of these sides suddenly just forgot how to execute something as basic as receive a kick-off? Not really.
So what happened? Here is a clue. Go back to the second All Black v South Africa test if you saved the video. Have a look at Carter’s kick-offs. The kick and follow through appear to be unusually casual; the ball’s trajectory is of medium height and the ball has a lazy tumble that often appears to curve somewhat.
The consequence of this is to make it extremely difficult to judge from the receiver’s position, and apparently less so from the attacking angle.
Kicked short it is also very easy to cover for the attacking side. While he may have been working on this style earlier it clearly came good in that match.
How often does Victor Matfield completely misjudge a ‘conventional’ kick-off? How often twice in a test match, so badly in fact that it sails right over his head?
The Wallabies had two weeks to look at the video of that match and completely missed this?