Sport has an affinity for the four-year cycle.
Only after having read all the comments and opinions on The Roar about the current situation for Australian teams in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman did I proceed to study in detail the main indicators of the game of attack, defence and management.
First of all I would like to analyse the keys to the performance between Australians and New Zealanders.
If someone were to ask me at this point where I find the game difference between Aussies and Kiwis, I would answer without hesitation that it is found in all phases of the game. To be more precise, we could analyse the framing and execution of the breakdown as well as the resolution of try situations or with possible points gain in the opponent’s 22 metres.
Let’s go by part. So far the most effective performance in the Australian ruck has been Waratahs (96.6 per cent). Although the percentage difference with the best New Zealand ruck is only 1.5 per cent – Blues have the best effectiveness, with 98.1 per cent – we see that the issue acquires special relevance when addressing another combined indicator, which presents the average number of successful rucks that occur before losing control of the game.
Thus, the Australians lose one ruck after executing 20 successes whereas the New Zealanders take that same account to 36. It’s a notable difference in attack control.
Game planners would say that it takes patience and concentration to successfully execute a plan of attack. I would add that it also requires the highest level of skills to ensure the success of an attack in contemporary rugby.
The tool with the greatest application in the game today is the movement of the ball at speed. The basic skill is structured from the race and the relationship between volume and quality of passes made. Is Australian rugby ready today to reduce the difference of almost five per cent that separates it in the number of passes made compared to New Zealand?
The challenge for Australian coaches today would be to increase and sustain the volume of play of their teams through the proliferation of passing speed as a way to provide pressure and territorial gain from possession.
Identical observations could be made regarding the kicking game, whose technique would be working at half power – after the kick is executed, the pursuit of the ball is inefficient in Aussie teams – and the ability to transform possession and territory into tries and points.
These asymmetries with Kiwi work are evident, especially the visit 22 opposition tries ratio that places New Zealand on average 16.3 per cent higher
In defence and in game management we can also see differences since the effectiveness of the Kiwi defences over those of the Australian teams is clear. A simple combined attack and defence indicator shows us that for every successful tackle we are opposed on average 0.9 carries in New Zealand compared to 1.2 in Australia.
This shows that we need a much more effective Australian tackle to stop a ball carry from the New Zealand side.
As it is, a fast helmsman is needed to change the game plan and work the wrong sequences. However, it is not happening in Australian rugby. Perhaps it is a cultural archetype that determines and conditions the style of Australian rugby; overcoming it would take time and effort in the basic work of clubs, schools and rugby unions since we cannot demand from the game something that it cannot in truth offer us today.
The challenge is open, and volunteers are urgently needed.