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The Rugby Championship united southern hemisphere defence and attack

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Roar Rookie
11th October, 2021
2018 Reads

RSA’s participation in The Rugby Championship renewed the meaning and opportunity of a question that still alters the dream of coaches: how to play superior rugby and not die trying?

All teams gave their answer to the question, even from their own limitations. RSA and NZL, generated their own positioning throughout the championship and their own series.

In terms of Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, we would say that “Invincibility is a question of defence, vulnerability, a question of attack.”

This line of argument, ‘attack not to die’ could be considered the permanent imprint of the NZL. Defender to mitigate risks would be the contribution that RSA -the least defeated defence – would make to all this.

Faced with Australia, the South African attack did not live up to what we expected without challenging its limits. He accumulated 43 points compared to 58 for Australians, with an effectiveness in the Visit 22 M. / Tries ratio of 23.5 per cent.

These are clearly discouraging metrics for South Africans. By proposing from the beginning of Rugby Championship an extreme kicking game, RSA deliberately omitted other options based on enhancing transition play and semi-attacks, assuming the consequences of better management of the passing game in backfield by AUS.

The video below shows how the attack by Handré Pollard (10) and Willie Le Roux (15) is magnificently defused by Quade Cooper (10) and relaunched by Samu Kerevi (12).

RSA turned out to be the least compromised defence in the Rugby Championship with only nine tries received and 29 breaks conceded.


Compared to 10 tries against and 32 breaks conceded by NZL: could we say that the difference between the RSA and NZL games turned out to be more apparent than real? In this clash of styles both had to give up initiatives and share roles.

Quade Cooper of the Wallabies

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Thanks to this forced withdrawal, we were able to see NZL in unusual situations, taking extreme defence and tightening the game, but also RSA optimising its attack variants and tuning in to the high quality of some of its players.

In the following video we see how RSA attacks from the lineout and loses possession, to then generate defensive pressure until causing the unforced error of Codie Taylor (2).

Having started in a very bad way and with a team affected by injuries such as James O’Connor or Jake Gordon, Australia was rearming its strategy under the leadership of Dave Rennie, who initially bet on the youth of Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Len Ikitau and the ineffable Andrew Kellaway (1.16 tries per match).

However, Rennie did not hesitate to bring Quade Cooper in as a playmaker, which paid off in the series against RSA where AUS was able to establish itself and obtain its best effectiveness metrics.

Finally, ARG has shown a low stature in relation to the resources it has available. Undoubtedly staying away from home for so long deeply affected the team, which managed to retain possession but without projecting it into territorial ambition.


Argentina is the only team that showed, on average, more possession than the territory, as a result of their lack of aggressiveness and assumption. risk. The video below presents us with some of the workings of the attack and the breakdown of Argentina against Australia.

In a world of diffuse borders, limits today assume features of instability and propose various ways of thinking about rugby. There, the classifications are no longer static but provisional.

We can say that in Rugby Championship the approaches focused mainly on defence or attacks gave way and gave maximum interest to a better resolution of the breakdown as a success factor.