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The JR Blog tackles the topics effecting Rugby, with a special interest on the effects they may have on the Junior Rugby world.

The South African coaching team (Peter De Villiers and co.) have produced a perfect example for all Junior coaches on how good coaching strategy can overcome a team’s weaknesses.

South Africa were crowned the Tri-Nations champions this week and fittingly so. They capped off a tough season with great use of their strengths to over come the best teams in the world. On paper the SA team is solid and powerful, however, lacked a true line breaking combination in the back line.

If you were to do a quick strength and weakness analysis on the Springbok team it would look as follows. Let's begin with the weaknesses.

Center combination lacked flare
The centre combination of Jaque Fourie  and Jean de Villiers  are solid hard running players who can hit the line at pace and defend like demons, however, can’t create a play from nothing.

Lacked a play maker at fly half (10, five eight)
Morné Steyn is very reliable set move executer and has an excellent right foot kicking game, however, he isn’t a Dan Carter or Matt Giteau who can create magic from nothing.

Faulted at the scrum
Although in most games their scrum would hold their own, over the course of the Tri-Nations it did come under fire and was a definite weak link in the armour. It wasn’t reliable enough to build a back line attack off.

Overall their main weakness was a back line that showed little chance of breaking the line in attack. Under the ELVs the back line would have been able to bash their way through the 3rd or 4th phase, however, under the new amended rules their inroads would have been far less advantageous.

On the other hand the Springbok strengths were in far more abundance.

Powerful, physical forward pack
The power the Boks had at the break down was key to their game dominance, they often turned ball over through their ability to stay on their feet and their powerful counter rucking.

4 world class line out jumpers

The line out was formidable winning all their own ball and a large portion of the oppositions ball. Why wouldn’t you be confident to kick when you know there was a good chance of winning the ball back?Lightning fast wingers

Lightning fast wingers
A Bryan Habana led cavalry of lightning fast wingers allowed the Boks to kick the ball behind the opponents and get to it before the counter attack could be structured. Even better the chase was so effective with the high ball that most kicks eventuated in knock ons or an infringement.

A boot that doesn’t miss
The boot of all their goal kickers just didn’t know how to miss even from 55m out. This meant the opponents couldn’t risk infringing even in their own half.

So if you have a powerful, committed forward pack, a back line full of defensive steel, and lightning fast wingers what game plan would you play? Naturally a kick chase game, hinged on powerful defence and physical dominance at the break down, capped with a goal kicking radar.

The only way a team could beat them was to put them on the back foot through quick recycling of the ball at the break down and fast movement of the ball to gaps. The Wallabies showed this in Brisbane and the All Blacks started to work it out in the last quarter at Hamilton.

To the Bok's credit they were clever enough to stop this fast phase play and suffocate the opponents until they made a mistake or the reinforcements arrived. The game plan was a strategic master piece based on a well thought out SWOT analysis.

The moral of the storey is, get to know your player's strengths and weaknesses and develop a game plan that will bring out your strengths. Too often a coach will develop a game plan based on how he wants the team to play even though they aren’t capable of that style.

Jason Grier | Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

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