There’s a saying which sums up the game of rugby perfectly. ‘The ball will always beat the man”. It’s centred around attacking teams maintaining their width and using passing to gain ground and score.
In recent years, much of the focus has been on the kicking aspect of the game, whether that is through box-kicking and up-and-unders to regain possession or utilising the new 50:22 variation law to get the territorial advantage.
And while these are legitimate areas of contest in the way the modern game is, there’s still a romanticism about beating defences through razor sharp attack and clever manipulation with passing.
Defences are getting more and more sophisticated these days, of course, but instead of completely uprooting the tactical side of play with kicking, it often takes more skill and preparation to get the same result through the use of space.
This youtube compilation delivers a sublime look at players who have effectively used passing and attack manipulation to get over the gain-line.
From the likes of Finn Russell to Quade Cooper, the Fiji Sevens squad to the iconic David Campese in the 1991 Rugby World Cup, there is always a degree of ingenuity, a flair which is simultaneously maverick as it is calculated.
The key difference between a pin-point accurate pass and a speculative lob comes down to knowledge and trust. Knowing who you are playing with and how they respond to your play will make what seems like 50:50 passes more like 80:20 passes.
Then there is the variation of pass. Many of the ‘in between the legs’ passes get lauded for being maverick while also being somewhat unnecessary, but you may be surprised to hear that these are actually trained by sides, in the event of rush defences making conventional passes impossible.
For sides like Fiji however, the offloading and passing into space is less trained and more instinctive from youth rugby. They almost don’t know any better, so what appears to be silky smooth, out of this world skill is, for them, fairly natural indeed.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the best passing the game has to offer!
credit: andrew forde