WHAT an exciting and fascinating game the Tahs and Brumbies delivered on Saturday night.
One of rugby's intriguing elements is in the beauty of the bipolar approaches to scoring points and relieving and applying pressure. It was this bipolar battle, the contrasting approaches to winning the game undertaken by both teams that was enthralling.
We had the Brumbies, with a move away from their historical expansive approach, engage a more traditional, let's say, risk averse approach. And then we had the Tahs playing a more contemporary, expansive style. Interestingly, both teams have essentially swapped playing styles from that preferred in their recent histories.
It was fascinating to see the differing approaches implemented. The Tahs played 80% of the rugby, but the Brumbies hung in there by capitalising on the Tahs' mistakes, and attacking only when it suited.
The Brumbies see no need to entertain. They will play field position first, with attacking endeavour second. They prefer an assured 20m field position gain via the boot, over a possible 50m plus gain via attacking endeavour. The Tahs, for the most part, were having a go from everywhere.
And it was close, right up until the final few minutes, where endeavour overcame risk aversity. The result was rugby of the highest order.
The game was an exciting case study of the two approaches, and also informative for the coming British and Irish Lions' tour and Test series against the Wallabies. The Brumbies approach is similar to that of the Lions.
As mentioned above, it's a very conservative approach. We know what the Lions will do - but how will the Wallabies approach the series?
For mine they have to go expansive. To do so requires positive ambition, suitable ability and precise execution. Within these three areas you have attacking structure, attitude, trust, and high skill levels and strength and fitness. Then you need to be immaculate in defence, and have a bit of luck.
Okay, there's risk in this approach. You have to believe you will score more points positively than the opposition, taking into account the risks. You trade off a possible 10-15 points 'gifted' to the opposition, knowing you will score 20-30 by being expansive. That's the reality of expansive rugby.
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