Wales – New Zealand

Feed of scraps, live like Kings

As a rugbycoach in the Netherlands who wants to keep up with the latest developments in rugby you have to go abroad and watch the games live. So much of the players positioning happens outside the view of the camera’s that you have to see it, to understand it. Most of the time we drive to Paris but this autumn we decided to watch New Zealand in Cardiff.

And this gave me the opportunity to meet my friend at Cardiff University again. He was one of the researchers for the RFU Shaping The Game program and is now doing research into decision-making in rugby. Good to meet him again!

The match

It did not disappointed me, fantastic to see Damian MacKenzie and Beauden Barrett move about the pitch and making a two man last line of defense. I guess their speed and anticipation allows the team to move the wingers in a flatter defensive position and it was one of the reasons the Welsh struggled to penetrate the line.

Also, New Zealand hardly competed at the breakdown, choosing to have more players in the first line of defense. Some interesting statistics:

Wales New Zealand
68%/60%Possesion31%/40%
74%/60%Territory25%/40%
9Clean Breaks18
25Defenders beaten24
14Offload7
141/144/97%Rucks won73%77%/94%
1/1Mauls won5/6/(83%)
11Turnovers conceded15

What is fascinates me is how New Zealand is so on top of this, suddenly it is a good idea to have two 1.75 meter players in your team and have the advantage over the bigger is better! We were surprised when Dan Coles became the Hooker / Winger, but now Cody Taylor is doing the same thing. Great to see how Rieko, in a center position, passing the ball to Cody Taylor who scored a Wingers try in the corner against Scotland. How are these concepts being worked out? Is this purposely developed or created by chance?

The Diamond

In our development model we work on the concept of supporting  the ball carrier from left, right and behind. Now we see a different use of this diamond shape. I will work out some animated examples later. Now that I saw this I understand it better than from the screen.

What does it take

Gatland / Wales realises they need to change their game, but the old Warrenball is so ingrained it will be difficult. But of course fun to follow this. In all, great visit to Wales again, next week Dubai 7s, unfortunately from the couch…..

Related material

  • Good match review on BBC website from Tom Fordyce
  • Match statistics on ESPN, , totally underpinning the “feed of scraps” remark of the BBC reporter.
  • Match highlights on YouTube