Ok. Yes, we all know that George finished the play in this clip (below), but it was the work from his scrum half & fly half that initiated the play and executed with precision.
I’ll go as far to say, that this is yet another example of a great team try, with everyone off the ball doing their bit to create time and space for George to do his work.
The attacking cross field kick in rugby is still considered by many coaches to be too risky. This is mostly due to the “through the hands” attacking structures teams play with inside an oppositions 22.
Safety & ball security seems paramount.
But, if the opportunity presents out wide, this type of kick will beat any exchange of passes and prevent the defence from recovering or adjusting.
Many players make poor decisions for their cross kick, and lack of game awareness can lead to a poor result and surrendering of possession.
Let’s look however, at the anatomy of a tremendous cross kick example in this video:
* The attacking fly half dictates the play, yet ably assisted by his scrum half who initially fixes the ruck defence by shaping to play the blindside
* A crisp pass to the 10 who was no doubt communicating the opportunity to kick
* A lead runner in mid field fixes the defenders in that central channel, preserving space further outside
* The kicker allows himself enough depth to comfortably execute kick, yet still appear a threat to run or pass
* The attacking backline were well positioned with sufficient width and space.
* The defence was flat, with the opposition winger being drawn too far in field exposing space out wide.
* The whole play was executed with speed.
Watch Full Clip (30secs) Here:
1. The scrum half, knowing the play is on, attracts interest from the ruck defence, buying precious time…
2. A great pass from scrum half to kicker. Don’t under estimate this! The kicker needed no re adjustments and moved quickly and smoothly into the kick. Observe off the ball activity. A lead runner (pass option) about to present himself, whilst players outside hold their men.
3. A smooth kick indeed. Made easier by the time and space afforded from the initial scrum half movements (deception). With the defence perceiving a running or passing threat they now deploy troops.
4. All too late for the defence. Drifting in field makes it almost impossible to cover in a situation such as this. Saints got their match up, and note that George North (try scorer) is not even in the picture yet! All we need now is for the kick to be spot on…
5. And it is! Brilliant timing from George North to inject himself into the play at exactly the right time. Even if the kick wasn’t perfect, the attacking team still had a dominant situation and the advantage to recover. Try…
Reduce the ‘risk’ of cross field kicking by practicing it for a start. Building activities that promote decision making and pressure are the best way to develop the skill required.
In the 15 man game, with good defensive systems, it can be difficult to go through.
Coach, maybe it’s time you looked to the sky?
By Stuart Lierich