Deconstructing the All Blacks’ defence

Tipsy McStagger Roar Rookie

By Tipsy McStagger, Tipsy McStagger is a Roar Rookie


32 Have your say

    The rush defence trialled by the Hurricanes in Super Rugby was basically a testing ground for the All Blacks brains trust before they implemented it with the national team – of this I am almost sure.

    The All Blacks have had a lot of success with it and the British and Irish Lions, in turn, used it successfully against them. Time to put it this very simple method under the microscope.

    The rush
    As with the All Blacks’ attack, the rush defence is very simple to grasp. The first three players either side of the breakdown rush up very quickly in an umbrella fashion which sees the outside defender in this team of three lead the way.

    Very importantly, the pillar and post players immediately left and right of the breakdown do their primary role first, which is to cover the channel on either side of the ruck and they only move when the ball has been passed off to the first receiver.

    This movement usually involves some degree of lateral movement to help the defender immediately to their outside make a tackle or to tackle the ball runner who steps into that channel.

    The point of this rush defence is to put a heap of pressure on the first and second receiver in their attempts to get the ball on the outside of this three-man rush defence, such as wide to their backs. The handling and timing of these receivers needs to be spot on and there is no room for error for want of a dropped ball or a stray pass.

    I am sure the All Blacks are conscious of the fact that most, if not all, teams’ first and second receivers, and especially their forwards, do not have the spur-of-the-moment distribution skills to get the ball past the three-man rush defence.

    The option most teams then take is to step back inside or even to do a pop pass immediately either side of the ball runner or receiver for a hit up (I have seen this from the Wallabies) and this is exactly what the All Blacks want – keep the attack stifled in a narrow channel without the need to run around or backpedal too much.

    The magic of this three-man rush is that, as the attack continues, turns have to be taken by the players in the defending line to be part of this three-man rush defence hence spreading the load. As with their attack, this is energy-efficient defence.

    Another option opposition teams take against this defence is to chip over the top to kick long. Again, this is a win for a defensive team because possession is almost always regained. The chip kicks can be made to be contestable but the kick needs to be spot on and performed under pressure (a skill I have not seen executed by too many fly-halves who have come up against this rush defence and certainly not by Bernard Foley).

    The scrumhalf, among others, is always roaming behind this rush defensive line to gather any chip kicks. And on a side note, how many times do you see the chip kick chaser run into a defender holding his ground, fall down while putting his hands up the air with a look of disgust on his face and not get anything from the referee?

    Ryan Crotty New Zealand Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup All Blacks 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    The rushing All Black defenders are excellent tacklers in general and I have noticed that even if they don’t make the actual tackle, they hang onto anything they can get hold of to slow down the ball carrier.

    Even if the tackle is missed, the ball carrier is slowed down considerably by either having to crash over a tackler or by having to change their angle and reduce their speed to get past him, which makes picking him off by the second defender much easier and less physically taxing.

    The spread
    The All Blacks are also very comfortable having a decent amount of space between the players in their general defensive line. This is due to their strategy of not committing numbers to breakdowns but rather spreading their defenders out in the defensive line across the field as quickly as possible.

    The one or two players who do commit to the breakdown do their utmost to slow the opposing team’s ball down for that extra second to allow their defenders that extra second to realign. Their 7 is so vital to their defensive system, and this is why the All Blacks will never abandon their traditional 7, even if the new law variations are brought in.

    Think the perennial pest that Richie McCaw was. A massive improvement in the All Blacks’ defence since the Richie McCaw days has been that all their forwards and backs are now coached to engage in this type of boundary-pushing slowing down of the ball at the breakdown.

    The other reason for the slowing down of the ball is, like with their attacking structure, energy efficiency. Having your defenders backpedal at a slower rate saves a lot of energy and anyone who has had to defend an attack for a long time knows how much it saps your legs if the other team gets a roll on and you have to backpedal quickly.

    The All Blacks also always have sweepers in behind their general defensive line and often this is the scrumhalf. These slight of frame and quick-footed players always hover in behind and are excellent at making low cover tackles. Having said that, a lot of their forwards, usually the 7, also perform this role.

    The All Blacks also have a habit of rushing the ball carrier from the outside and inside at a very well-paced run in their general defence. If it is identified that the ball carrier is running at a particular defender, the defenders to the immediate inside and outside of that defending player move inwards to close in on the ball carrier.

    They move slowly at first, but once it is too late for the offload and the ball carrier is committing to the run, the inside and outside defender rush inwards at pace to help make the tackle and even try for a rip. After the ball carrier is on the ground, only one player usually remains to assist the tackler and to slow down the ball while the other guy immediately resets in the line.

    I know from connections in New Zealand that the All Blacks are very comfortable in utilising this spacious, non-committal defence because they know that the attacking team is eventually going to make an error. The amount of technical work that goes into the breakdown (and the laws around it) puts the onus on the attacking team not to mess up and at some point, a cleanout will be missed by a fraction, opening a turnover opportunity. The All Blacks just hang back, slow the ball down for a split second, realign and wait for the next attack and inevitable error.

    The early set-up
    When a call is made by a first receiver or the receiver outside him on how that attack from a breakdown will play out, it must be remembered that the position of their chests, feet and their general positioning gives away what angles they are going to run and the possible moves available to them.

    Having said that, another noticeable trait in the All Blacks’ general defence is that the defender on the inside is always responsible for calling the structure of the defensive line utilises at that particular moment. I can’t comment on the information that comes in from the outside but I can only surmise that there is some communication informing of how the opposition players outside that first defender are set up.

    The first player in the defensive line sets himself up almost immediately to face either straight, to the inside or to the outside and all the players outside him follow his lead. This decision is made before the ball even reaches the hands of the first receiver.

    They don’t waste time doing it waiting for the ball to leave the first receiver’s hands. This first defensive player will then run up at that angle and so will the others outside him. This requires very quick summarising of the situation from that player (and also from the players outside him that are informing him).

    Israel Dagg All Blacks New Zealand Test Rugby Union Rugby Championship 2016

    (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

    The goal of this very early decision making, and running up in the way that is immediately selected by the inside defender, is that they are set up before the attack even starts and when the ball leaves the first receiver’s hands they are already running up at the angles required to deal with what’s in front of them.

    Conversely, it pressures the offence because they either run into a defensive line ready to deal with how they are set up or they have to change their calls or running angles at the last minute – which almost always ends in disaster.

    Where to attack?
    Going wide of the three-man rush defensive line to the backline requires great skill and sleight of hand. I have seen very few instances where this has been achieved and almost none by the Wallabies. Running back into the rush defence towards the breakdown plays into the hands of the defending team.

    A second receiver, like a 15, running wide and behind the attacking line is an option. I have seen teams use this but I have also seen the fourth or fifth defender out rush up and hit this player – I saw this defensive ploy numerous times from the Hurricanes.

    A long pass means that ball is in the air for a longer time which gives the fourth or fifth defender out more time to rush and meet the man when the ball gets to him.

    There is not much to do in general play attack where the All Blacks just don’t commit, spread and set up very early. The entire width of the field is covered and running straight at them results in a two to three man gang tackle.

    You have to be a vastly superior sized human being to make dents on your own in the defensive line these days because of the size parity across the first tier teams. I always chuckle at the Springboks just swinging it from side to side with no go forward in the name of running rugby because they can’t identify any gaps across the width of the field in the All Blacks’ defence.

    The solution for my mind is incredibly simple. The Pumas have shown it on more than one occasion against the All Blacks and the All Blacks did it to the Lions in the first Test when the Lions made it public that they would be using the same rush defence.

    Beauden Barrett All Blacks New Zealand Rugby Union Test Championship 2016

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    Just pick and go around the ruck and stick to one-out runners of 9. The Pumas and All Blacks made massive metres up the field when they used it. This is the downside to the rush and spread defence – you can’t defend in close if the other team chooses to commit numbers to attack there.

    The defence will have to start committing their forwards in close and spread their backs more thinly across the field. It’s good old fashioned simple rugby – hit them hard in and around the breakdown, force their forwards to come in close and then swing it to your backs to attack.

    Problem is, although there is more space, it’s still an even numbered attack with seven backs on seven backs and does the other team, especially the Wallabies, have the backs to do it?

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • January 17th 2018 @ 10:58am
      Old Bugger said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      A classic example of over-coming the rush defence was in the BILvAB 1st test. BB was No 10 until Bender left the field with his head knock. Admittedly, this was all in the first 20mins when both sides were really playing, a standard opening quarter game. The BIL’s were applying their rush defence and BB was being more inclined to kick for territory even when his pack, were beginning to play the pick n go as more possession, was being won.

      The change of fortunes for the ABs IMO, was when Cruden came on for Bender and BB, slotted to No15.

      While the BILs continued with their rush defence, the more opportunities the ABs gained through possession, allowed Cruds to start taking the ball to the line and forcing the first 2 defenders in the 3-man rush, to think about what Cruds may or may not do – does he offload to SBW, does he grubber, does he chip or does he run at the line before off-loading back inside, to a back-up forward.

      The more options that Cruden introduced, the more effort was being placed upon the BIL’s close-in defence and this coupled with the ABs forwards pick n go, eventually opened areas for the back-line, to attack.

      The rush defence is not a new play of defence, against the ABs. This defence has always been applied by the SBs in the RC during those seasons leading up to RWC 2015. It was just that, with DC and Cruden running the cutter at No10, the ABs seemed to find counters against the SBs rush, in particular JdV’s ability to isolate the ABs outside backs and either he or his wingers, would end up picking off, an intercept. The SBs did the ABs a favour by forcing them to always revisit their attack strategies, when JdV and his back-line presented their version, of the rush defence.

      I’m pretty sure that Hansen, Foster and Smith (now McLeod) have a booklet of counters against the rush defence and are simply holding back, until next year. There’s no gains for them by showing their attack plans this early, in the RWC cycle.

      They seem to be still winning, without showing too much, of their game plan.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 5:01pm
        cuw said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

        I think the success of BILs defence is overstated.

        yes they did rush up and managed to hassle the AB attack.

        However, imo , the main thing that affected the fluidity of attack was the number of BIL forwards who were either on the wrong side or had the hand on the ball , just long enuf and far longer than shud be allowed.

        This was possible due to the very lax reffing in the teats 2 and 3 by Europeans. whereas the first test was reffed by Peyper.

        it will be interesting to see how things go with the new tackle Laws.

        the Sarries in Aviva are employing the rush defence very effectively. however quite a few teams showed this season how easy it is to break down with certain tactics.

        again imo, running 10s are the key to this style. the rise of marcus Smith in England is mainly due to his style.

        also the success of teams like Wasps and Exter are due to their 10s. it was very obvios Wasps were lost when Cipriani was out injured.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 5:33pm
          Perthstayer said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          CUW – Another way to unlock the rush is really well executed and blindingly fast pick and drives (almost touch style). Pick and go’s are still being done fairly clumsily but the new ruck law will see that change.

          BTW ” either on the wrong side or had the hand on the ball , just long enuf and far longer than shud be allowed” Isn’t that a form of defence?

          • January 18th 2018 @ 3:41pm
            cuw said | January 18th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

            yes ur correct , but if u watch the BILs tests trio of Warburton SOB and the replacement 3rd rower got away with murder, IMO>

            quite a few times the ref was tapping on their backs and telling them to ” hands off”>

            IMO ref is not there to hold hands – he is there to penalize infringements. in other words i am against the refs who use their hands to tap on the back of a player and tell him to stop doing something. ALSO players cannot touch the ref – then why the hell shud a ref touch players??

            after the matches – especially the 2nd test a few writers questioned the decision to take Kaino off, stating that having one less 3rd rower gave the BILs more or less a free hand to do their dirty work .

            but i understand why they allowed it. if u watch TOP 14 – the refs allow the hands on the ball a lot more than they do generally in SH. but this year they are forced to act differently , especially when the tackler stay on the wrong side.

            in an ideal world all refs will act same – but then nothing is ideal in this world ….

        • January 17th 2018 @ 5:34pm
          Fionn said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

          In my opinion in the third Test it wasn’t even so much that as it was just the pressure getting to Aaron Smith, Barrett and Savea in the third Test.

          Between the three of them I think they butchered 2-3 certain tries and another 2-3 probably tries.

          I thought that the All Blacks were by far the superior team in the 3rd Test in terms of controlling the matches and creating opportunities—they just couldn’t finish them off.

          • January 18th 2018 @ 8:38am
            Tipsy McStagger said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

            Fionn, I read the last test the same way you do – the AB’s squandered some valuable opportunities with some very uncharacteristic mistakes – maybe enforced by pressure from the Lions…

        • January 18th 2018 @ 8:36am
          Tipsy McStagger said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Hi Cuw,

          I agree with what you say on beating the rush defence, especially with a running/highly skilled 10. I have been noticing that the AB’s are employing different defensive patterns too, especially on the Spring tour (as Sam also pointed out below). I think Hansen & co are anticipating this countering of the rush defence in the near future and are already working on alternative defensive structures.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 11:26am
      Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      Old Bugger, I am in agreeance with you.

      There is a reason the AB’s prefer playing against the Springboks and don’t want them to leave the competition. The AB’s game had to adapt after the successful 2009 Springbok kicking, line out, mauling game and as you say, they also had to adapt due their rush defence.

      I am certain Hansen and co are holding their cards to their chest. Eddie Jones has commented on this previously by saying that he thinks the All Blacks are deliberately putting themselves under pressure in certain games to test their players, and I suspect tactics.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 1:45pm
        KiwiHaydn said | January 17th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Tipsy and OB, I have to agree. The Hurricanes (in 2016 I think) seemed to have worked out how to breakdown a rush defence very well indeed, and it was frustrating these tactics weren’t employed more against the Lions.

        Nothing beats a rush defence like indecision – is the playmaker going to run, pass, kick (short or long), offload? Create uncertainty early and the gaps will start to appear.

        The Lions did well to maintain their structure in defence for long periods, whereas the ABs didn’t create enough uncertainty (perhaps due to injury enforced changes to their personnel).

        There was certainly a sense of ‘rope a dope’ from the ABs in 2017 as they blooded a whole raft of new players, let’s see what 2018/19 bring!

        • January 17th 2018 @ 2:12pm
          Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          Hi KiwiHaydn,

          I think Jordie Barret’s shoulder dislocation in the first test was a major blow to the All Blacks, especially after his brother got the head knock. I remember him being used as first receiver (whilst wearing 15) by the Hurricanes in a lot of their games prior to the series. I am certain he was being groomed as the successor to his brother and that the AB’s brains trust would have been ruing not being able to develop him in 2017 as they did with so many other players.

          Aaron Cruden had to step in from the Chiefs set-up and he probably wasn’t exposed to those tactics as much with the Chiefs as J Barret would have been with the Hurricanes.

      • Roar Guru

        January 17th 2018 @ 2:17pm
        pformagg said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

        Agreeance is the act of agreement. You are in agreement with him, not agreeance.

      • Roar Guru

        January 17th 2018 @ 3:58pm
        Machpants said | January 17th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        Yeah Tipsy, the putting yourself under pressure was used very successfully in the last world cup. To howls of glee from journalists the ABs were often poor in their pool games. But by choice they were doing things the hard way, like virtually no kicking from hand in one game (Namibia?)

        • January 17th 2018 @ 4:28pm
          Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          On the money Matchpants,

          I am almost certain that last year’s Rugby Championship and Spring Tour were also used in that way by the AB’s brains trust. Apart from blooding and developing a whole second team (with thirds in some positions) over 2017, they also deliberately put the team under pressure in a lot of those games. I am also concerned that the Wallabies (and Springboks after the Cape Town test) have taken false hope from some of their results against the AB’s in 2017 because of this.

          • January 18th 2018 @ 12:41am
            ethan said | January 18th 2018 @ 12:41am | ! Report

            The concern for the WBs is that the ARU and Cheika took false hope from it, and will therefore employ the same tactics again next year. It’s great however if the players have some hope and belief, for without it you’re sunk.

            I’m guessing much of the same from WBs next year. Consistently inconsistent, too-complex defence patterns, players out position, unbalanced selections, etc… When it all miraculously clicks like the third Bledisloe this year we will look like World Beaters and it will be an absolute pleasure. Then we will follow it up the next week looking like a rabble.

            Excellent article again mate, have enjoyed this little series.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 1:24pm
      DB said | January 17th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

      Tipsy, it is so refreshing to see someone use their brain and actually think about the game.

      The tactics used by the All Black and Pumas were both very good counters to a rush defence, although I am not sure we can emulate this – currently.

      I commented on this on one of your other articles but currently with the arrow setup, we just crash straight into the defence without any change of angle or footwork, so as to provide a weak shoulder. Further, we are not yet skillful enough to capitalise from these small incursions over the gain line with an offload.

      Its remarkable how good Jack Dempsey, Caleb Timu and Isi Naisarani looked this year and in my mind, this arises from their better than average footwork, leg drive in Naisarni’s case and offloading ability with respect to Timu and Naisarani.

      If we can keep developing this aspect of our game, I think we will really see some benefits.

      What makes it more critical is the possibility of the implementation of the law trials with respect to the ruck. If the response is to apply less pressure as a jackal and instead fan out and use increased linespeed, then these opportunities will become more prevalent and in turn, place a greater emphasis on the development of these skills. Players like Taniela Tupou, Sio and Kepu, all of whom have good footwork will be invaluable, as will tragically forgotten backrowers like Higginbotham.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 2:02pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

        Agreed DB,

        The new trial laws will be to the attacking teams advantage and will make selecting a ‘pure jackal’ harder to justify. The All Blacks have moved away from the traditional 7 mould in Richie McCaw and Sam Cane i.e. still good at breakdown work but just a bit taller, heavier framed and better at all round play (the AB’s open sides have been 5 cm taller than their Australian counterparts for some time now). Above all, they are masters at, not stealing the ball, but slowing it down.

        Footwork in forwards are a major key. I made comment on this in my next article about the selections for the 2019 World Cup, in particular in relation to Jack Dempsey and David Pocock.

        • January 18th 2018 @ 12:50am
          ethan said | January 18th 2018 @ 12:50am | ! Report

          Australia has often struggled against teams that fan out in defence, as it doesn’t create the space on the edges our run at all costs mentality seeks. More rounded teams use a variety of kicks to make gains against these patterns, but without good kickers, we stubbornly just truck it up right into their well established wall. It also seems to favour bigger, taller backrowers, which we have not been selecting.

          Unless we have a change of tactics this year, I can see it being a hard lesson.

          Dempsey’s late footwork was very impressive, as is McMahon’s leg drive.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 1:32pm
      Muzzo said | January 17th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      I really don’t think, that the BIL, rush up defence, was that successful, against the AB’s, Tipsy. It must be remembered, that the French referee’s in the last two test, were of great assistance to them, especially the last test, & that controversial change of rules penalty, that was taken away from the AB’s.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 2:05pm
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        Hi Muzzo,

        I agree that the Lions rush defence wasn’t 100% successful against the All Blacks but they did a pretty good job of it and did a lot better than other teams have done so far. I also felt a bit for Gatland, as with all Lions coaches, in that he had to instil his game plan into a group of players from 4 different countries in a matter of weeks.

        I will not discount your comments on the referees though, their interpretations definitely favoured the Lions.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 5:21pm
          taylorman said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

          Yep thats fair. The four country thing has usually worked against the Lions and not many here thought the Lions would apply as much pressure that they did over the last two tests. Few do it at all and even fewer for two tests in a row.

          The Ref aside, we were well warned after test two and to not be able to take the ref out of the equation at the end of three was all credit to the Lions. Sure we could have got a decision and swung it but doesnt take away from the Lions efforts.

          They werent pretty, but they were good.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 2:22pm
        taylorman said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        (Personally I think everyone should just wait until we’re selecting our players from the Mitre 10 sides, give it a couple of years huh Muzzo?). But if we break the outside players rule think of what we’d save at two hours down the M1 to Twickers from wasps?… but I digress…

        Agree Barrett’s going to be targeted more with the R defence and he’s kind of hit or miss with it…which isn’t good. And with a learning midfield with about as wide a variety of styles as you can get , we’re still a loooong way from the DC/ Crudes, Nonu, C Smith midfield which even in hindsight must have been a nightmare to play against when it was functioning at peak. Class, tough and brains across your midfield is hard to get and combinations like that only come along once every ten or twenty years.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 2:37pm
          Tipsy McStagger said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

          Hi Taylorman,

          Agree with your comments on B Barrett. It astounds me that other teams, especially Rugby Championship teams, have not tried to rush him more often or even just exert more pressure in general on him. The Lions showed that it is possible.

          I don’t think we will ever again see the combo like DC, Nonu and Conrad. I think Sonny-Bill is integral to the AB’s set-up, even though he is not perfect (I think he is gap filler to be honest). The AB’s brains trust will searching high and low for the next Nonu and it looks like they are currently grooming Laumape. I rate Crotty as a smart operater and I really hope J Barret gets more game time in 2018 to show off his wares.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 2:41pm
          KiwiHaydn said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          Still maintain Nonu was the ABs biggest (avoidable) loss post 2015 RWC.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 3:13pm
          Muzzo said | January 17th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          How true T/man, & a Happy New Year. No doubt, there will be more in the way of emerging talent, on the way up to the RWC, & as we saw last year, the amount of players, that were given a run by Shag.
          We do miss, the exceptional talent of players such as C.Smith, Ma’a, DC, etc, etc, but as we are all, inclined to agree, in Shag, we trust.
          Let’s see what happens this coming year, as I’m sure it will be more than interesting. Cheers.
          P.S. Good luck with the Blues, as I will be hoping for the Landers.

          • January 17th 2018 @ 5:25pm
            taylorman said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

            Happy new year Muzzo, et tout le monde!

            Yes back to backing Blue (or whats left of them). They should have called them ‘The Mercenaries’ cos thats what theyve done since 1996, played for everyone, anywhere, but the Blues ha ha…

            All the best with the Landers too. ABs have really gotta pull some tricks out before next year thats for sure.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 2:05pm
              Muzzo said | January 18th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

              Hahaha T/man, I’m not that confident, with the Landers, as being with a new coaching set up, they just might have problems finding their feet. Sapoaga, moves North at the end of the season, so no doubt, a reliable replacement, will be keenly sort. We certainly are having problems at 10, as we lost the super reliable Marty Banks, last season. Oh well, I suppose, all we can do, is wait & see what happens!! Roll on the Super Rugby, Bro. Lol.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 6:18pm
      DavSA said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

      As far as I can ascertain Shaun Edwards , head coach of rugby leagues London Wasps is widely credited with introducing the rush or as some call it blitz defence. This was in the 2004 season . I also think that the first time it was effectively and consistently used in International rugby was by Jake White when the Boks took the 2007 World Cup honours. ….It is therefore sad that Tipsy correctly alludes to the Boks being so devoid of attack imagination and creativity when they were innovators of the same rush defence a mere 10 years ago.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 8:25am
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Hi DavSA,

        Being a former “boertjie” from SA, I heard rumours that Brendan Venter was also instrumental in the rush defence being implemented when he started coaching in England. I also heard that it was via him that this method found it’s way back to South African and Jake White. These are only rumours though.

        It is sad to see the former homeland wasting so much talent and opportunity via lack of vision and imagination… and I will not get into the politics. I really hope Rassie Erasmus gives it a real shake up because world rugby needs the Boks to be competitive

    • Roar Guru

      January 17th 2018 @ 6:38pm
      Sam Taulelei said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

      It was noticeable on the end of year tour last year that the All Blacks had altered their defensive patterns under new coach Scott McLeod and weren’t rushing but employing almost a sliding zone defence where they were content for the opposition to run through their moves without conceding the advantage line. Results were mixed which is to be expected.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 8:28am
        Tipsy McStagger said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Hi Sam,

        I noticed that in the Scotland game a few times. Kiwi supporters shouldn’t despair just yet I don’t think, Shag & co. know exactly what they are doing. I am sure they stared into the looking glass and saw that teams will get better and better at countering the rush defence, hence the need for different defensive patterns to meet different (albeit future) tactics.