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Superstar’s signature move

Training to a superstar’s signature move

We have all seen a big game player pull out a move, sometimes a play special to that particular star, at other times a movement that they pull out to create a match winning play, and such acts spawn reproductions in backyards all across the country.

Such moves have impact far beyond what it might appear to create on the rugby field.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and to have young players try such moves may not resemble the execution of their All Blacks counterparts, but gives them energy to participate in rugby that can be priceless in training young children throughout the ranks.

This often leads to a picture on the wall, the wearing of their idol’s player’s number on the back of their jersey, even wanting to specialise in that particular position, and this is often the backbone of what leads to involvement in their local rugby club.

What sort of moves are we talking about?SBW

Arguably the key play that has become ingrained within our consciousness is Sonny Bill Williams offload.

Opposition coaches, such as former Springboks mentor Peter de Villiers, mocked Williams impact on the game early in his rugby career, saying that his offloads were overly flamboyant and had no place in the modern game.

Yet with Williams leading Super Rugby by a considerable margin with his offloads, it is a skill that clearly has application.

However while talking about Sonny Bill and his offloads, or for that matter any special move, remember a series of rules apply:

IS IT AN ATTACKING OR DEFENSIVE MOVEMENT?

DOES THE PLAYER HAVE THE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES TO PULL IT OFF?

IS THERE A BACKUP MOVEMENT IF THE PLAY DOESN’T COME OFF?

HAVE THE INHERENT RISKS OF THE MOVE BEEN CONSIDERED?

The last point is a crucial one, as every ‘marquee’ or special movement often has a risk, for if it didn’t come with any particulars, than these styles of plays would be attempted all the time.

In breaking down the points, the first question is an easy one

–    an offload, fend, sidestep or special pass is offensive
–    while a heavy tackle, a drive over the ruck, or the direct pilfering of a play in possession is defensive

Physical attributes are important.

Few smaller players have effective fends for example, although the proper execution of a fend can be targeted even against a far larger player – so while in theory a one-arm fend is the province of a stronger individual, a player with excellent balance (such as Cory Jane) can attempt such a movement.

Williams’ offloads come from simple attributes such as height, arm length and hand size, with the one-handed style of rugby possession not merely the province of Sonny Bill, but a move that was pioneered by one of the great All Blacks in Colin Meads.

Meads didn’t hold the ball in one giant mitt to look for offloads however, but preferred to use his free hand as a significant intimidator when roaming with the ball in hand.

One must also consider a backup movement, for often if a special play goes wrong, it can put a team in trouble.

A poor timed offload is lost possession, a badly timed fend is merely giving the tackler a handle to pull you to ground with.

Make sure as a player (or for that matter as a coach) that such signature plays are not the only tool in your repertoire, no matter how fancy it might be at the time.