Hi guys. There many mysteries in the world, for instance who killed President Kennedy? What really happen in the Bermuda Triangle? And why does my wife need so much shampoo, because I can almost not fit into the shower there so many different bottles, even though they all smell the same to me.
Another big mystery is, why can the Stormers not score tries? They have scored the least tries in Super Rugby this year – only 22. But the interesting thing is that at the same time they have the 6th most carries, so they are trying! Something is not lekker here, so I thought I will take a closer look at the Jaguares game from the weekend to see what I can see…
The picture below is part of the problem I think, and that is the shapes that the Stormers creates from ruck to ruck. Shapes is how we using our forwards in relation to our backs, and how we plan to manipulate the defence based on our grouping, spacing and depth. A good shape will stress the defence, a poor shape can cost you the ball.
First, look at the three receiving forwards. They not presenting a picture to worry the Jaguares in any way. Eben is at best a one-off runner, Wiese have his hands on his knees, and Bongi is in motion on his own outside them. They not connected as a group, so they not a threat as a unit. It will be harder for them to generate quick ball, or to be believable bait to give our backs some space.
But the main reason for this shape is Willemse. Earlier in the clip we see him tell the forwards to get behind him because he want to be the first receiver, but in effek he have now taken his tanks off the battlefield… So he will take the ball and then pop it up for Leyds who will run into a flank. This now suck four Stormers into the ruck to protect the ball, including Willemse and both centres.
This is not a wise way to use our resources, but even more frustrating is that this is the second phase after a lineout, so we expecting much better organisation at this point.
It also feel at times like the Stormers is improvising in many situations. For many people, “structured” rugby is a dirty word, but against good defence you must have a clear plan to first try and create cracks in the wall that you can then exploit with sexy play.
Below we see four Stormers forwards in a line. Eben will get the ball, but Coetzee will run into the same space as him calling for a pass. This is not the kind of organisation that promote quick clean ball.
Why do we use forwards in the backline? People think it is just for decoys, but another reason is that contact is actually good! Because when we get contact we get a ruck, and when we create rucks we can create folding problems. Defenders try to get around the ruck and also panic that they have correct numbers on either side.
In the picture below we see Jantjies pass behind two forwards to Du Plessis out wide. The Jaguares can simply push out to attack the second layer of the Stormers attack.
But perhaps if Jantjies hit one of those forwards first then we can make a dent in the Jaguares line… We stop the defensive rush, and if we go wide from there then all the Jaguares must first come around the ruck to go and defend. In a few cases like this the Stormers key decision makers did not do enough hard work first before going on a adventure.
Another contributing factor to the Stormers blunt attack was just poor technique. Below we see Coetzee is ahead of Etzebeth in the pod. How can you support from there? The 8th man Lezana will stop Eben in his track, resulting in both Coetzee and Wiese going past Etzebeth and being unable to protect the ball, which is then stolen.
It is basics! We want our support at a angle behind us, latching or ready for a tip pass or a clean or whatever. Above is not a recipe for the quick ball that the backs crave so much.
But the backs was not always blameless hey. Their alignment off each other was often not very good and they were not able to take the few opportunities that did come their way.
Below we see Du Plessis getting ready to play out. If Kriel was flatter at that red cross then Orlando is in big trouble because he will be committed, and there is still Engelbrecht, Willemse and Senatla waiting on the outside… But with Kriel so deep, Orlando can simply watch and wait and drift out as the ball move down the line.
When you are numbers up, you must force that advantage.
Often the Stormers players – and especially Willemse – just try to do too much on their own. In many cases this was a team playing as individuals and not as a unit and this is maybe the biggest thing I notice.
Below we see a clear chance to put Senatla away but Damian will try to make a jink and the Stormers will concede a turnover.
This kind of behaviour can be because of frustration at the lack of penetration, and that ironically come back to all the things we mention above.
Due to poor shapes, the poor use of shapes, and poor technique within that shapes, the Stormers could not create conditions for effective attack. And so players try to make things happen by themself, but when you improvise too much against a good defence they will just pick you off.
It is easy from my couch and I do not know what the intentions of the players and coaches was, but for my mind the Stormers must go back and simplify the way they play and drill absolute effectiveness into a few basic patterns.
Simple and accurate rugby can open the door for improvisation when the cracks does appear, and that will leave the Stormers in much better shape!
DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans