Offloads - part of the new Tahs? - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Offloads – part of the new Tahs?

Offloads – part of the new Tahs?

Yes, they’ve only played two matches (and only two good halves), but I’m obsessed with the offloads that I perceive the 2013 Waratahs have brought into their game.

So, to enable myself to sleep through the night I went to the stats to find some relief.

tahs offloadsThe stats (from our mate tell me this: in 2012, the Tahs averaged 6.8 offloads per match and only made it to double figures in three games. Already in the first two games of 2013, the Tahs have made 10 and 14 offloads in their opening two matches (or according to* 14 and 16). In comparison, the Reds this year have averaged 8.6 offloads*.

Now offloads on their own aren’t going to win matches, but as Scott Allen mentioned on our podcast this week, they could well be an important part of the Waratah strategy, which is to avoid being drawn into a breakdown battle, leaving their destructive ball-running forwards available for action and keeping the game pace high. This in turn cuts down the amount of time defences have to reset, and looks to get some pay out of all those Coogee steps.

Here are a few just from the second half last weekend:

[youtube id=”09dW2fqyiC0″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

What do you reckon — am I dreaming?

If so, don’t wake me.


Postscript: This from Iain Payten at the Telegraph.

  • Scott Allen

    Now I’ll have to change my article for tomorrow to avoid duplication – great minds think alike!

    • I’m sure there are many other awesome parts of the Tahs game you’ll want to cover Scott!

  • The Rant

    So good to see!!!
    Problem is still the midfield. Carter is not adding value and just trucks it back up into the traffic and AAC hasn’t got onboard to this passing tactic yet.

    • Stin

      Scott, maybe you can do an article about how important the IC position is and how terrible Carter is at it!

    • Jimmy

      Carter – just sooooo poor. why is he still there – surely they can find someone who looks like they might be a good IC in a few years to stick in for some experience. Anything is better than Carter – now he has forgotten how to defend to go along with his inability to distribute.

      Now I understand “Team men” like Carter are essential but can’t they stick a Tah Man costume on him rather than a jersey.

      Whenever I see him play all I can think is – Oh shoot me.

      • Hawko

        Carter topped the tackle count last week. If that’s “forgetting how to defend” then all I can say is “Oh, shoot me.”

        • Jimmy

          You obviously missed the Reds game….fortunately I was there and it was horrendous.

  • Parra

    Hi Matt, no I don’t think you’re dreaming, it could well be a new strategy – and why not? In my view offloading is not used enough. It’s often talked about as some kind of rare skill bestowed upon only a handfull of players (eg. SBW). It should be thought of as a fundamental skill for all bigger players (some smaller players can also free the arms up – Quade Cooper is a good example). To me it’s a sign of a well settled side playing really well when there’s a lot of offloading, support runners ever ready for the next chance. The Waratahs probably aren’t in that category yet but their forwards are well suited to the job – big and strong. As you mentioned in the podcast it seems to be a conscious decision, while, as Scott Allen said they’re probably not so well suited to the breakdown. Avoiding a breakdown but maintaining possession must be a good thing. They have Hooper in a defensive breakdown situation. It used to be a feature of the Welsh game. They have carved us up in the past playing a offloading game. And yes, the wider running game from the Waratahs from the week before where the ball carriers were getting isolated just needed to be tweaked a little.

  • Gibbo

    It’s concerning to me that that the back-five forwards are carrying the ball into the contact – taking the hit and then looking to off-load. Surely Sonny Bill has showed that taller player do well running a slight angle with the fend, then look to offload when past the tackler.

    The fend creates the space between the ball carrier and the defended to keep the ball carrying arm free.

    • You expect thinking like that from forwards?!?

      Running away from the man and not over him is for girls/backs

      • Gibbo

        Well I was involved in this exact conversation with a grade player last night who has a history of injuries received when taking the ball into contact without creating that extra foot of space.

        It’s one thing Rugby attack coaches can learn from Leaguies. From scrums and line-outs often our forwards run too low. This is more like league in that it creates the 10+ mtrs between attack and defence. League players run up right looking to get the arms free, then look for the quick play the ball. Rugby players are concerned with recycling possession (and maybe getting the ball away).

        • Patrick

          Have you seen what happens when Union players run upright? Check out Timani or Simmons or Dennis on last year’s test matches, I think you’ll find that they got creamed!! It works for SBW (or Mortlock, or also Folau) because they are ALSO agile runners with a rock-solid one-handed grip on the ball.

          I’m not sure that our forwards are quite there yet…

        • Gibbo

          Running upright when in close range = Bad. The Wallabie did get belted for that last year. But from longer range (ie lineouts scrums) it is on. Head down bum up from long range just takes away the offload option

  • Nutta

    Off-loads are a sign of two things:
    1. Belief that your mate will be there to take a pass even when fatigued
    2. Fitness of a level to trust your own skills when fatigued to make the pass

    Funnily enough this is just 2 different sorts of confidence – in your mate and in your self – but confidence grounded in solid preparation and conditioning

    From what I’ve seen of the Tarts training and playing so far this year the whole point of Checks programme is to build no BS confidence based on fitness & brutally honest self-assessment. It’s a long way off but it’s aspirational of the Swans and their No Dickheads policy under Paul Roos

    When a team starts showing that level of confidence based in a reality of fitness & honesty then they become bloody dangerous because as stated in the article you cannot realign to defend against them and they roll on to create their own momentum and luck

    I hate myself for saying this but the Tarts may be on the cusp of something good… finally… maybe… No I don’t write for The Sydney Morning Herald…

    • Careful with rash statements like that Nutta

      • Nutta

        Thus the use of “may” & “maybe”. Love those words…

        Or were you referring to SMH? Couldn’t do that to myself…

    • Jimmy

      Couldn’t agree more on the “Paul Ross” sentiment. have said for a while that sort of culture was what was missing from the Aussie teams.

      Despite the fact that if a “No Dickheads Policy” was implemented, you would lose half the players, I think it is essential for future success.

      Here’s hoping they are onto something the Tahs – It’s still just hope, but it would be great to see them finally live up to their potential.

      Queue the bitter Queenslanders

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Thanks for putting this video together. I clearly remembered some good off loads when I watched the game live but crikey they look frigging absolutely terrific when highlighted like this. And the support play and good safe hands, is really pleasing.

    The signs were positive against the Reds but the timing wasn’t quite right or else fitness of the support player (not sure which) and it broke down. So I’m delighted that Cheika and the boys do not allow minor set backs to knock us off course and just keep hammering away at the new style of game we want to play.

    To use a Robby-ism, it needs to become part of our DNA.

  • Wheatman01

    I seem to remember this tactic tearing the Wallabies apart during the spring tour. It’ll be good to see if it works against the Brumbies this weekend. Nice also to have a different game plan to the Wallabies so a plan B might be available if the pick and drive, one-off pass to a forward doesn’t work against the Lions.

    • Gibbo

      The Poms put it to use beautifully.

      • mxyzptlk

        They do, the bastards.

  • Afrosentrix

    Been waiting for Aussie sides to adopt kiwi style offloads for ever. Can only be a good thing and heighten a more intuitive style of play, which always gets you closer to the try line.

    • mxyzptlk

      I’d have to look at the stats more carefully, but I think the Tahs are just below the Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues for offloads per game — and just above the Brumbies. (Haven’t had a look at the SA teams yet.)

      The thing that kind of play seems to open up is a game of attrition; the offloads force the opponents to keep up, and if they can’t match the offloaders’ fitness, it leads to increasingly more line breaks through the offloads by the second half. Like Nutta said, it’s two kinds of confidence at play.

  • J-Rugby

    “Destructive ball running forwards…” … Who Dennis?? Surely having a laugh

NSW Waratahs

Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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