• How to Lose

    Losses to Australian teams over the weekend by both the Crusaders and Hurricanes have been greeted with shock and surprise by New Zealand rugby fans.

    Yet, an at least partial explanation is available; the two losses were both set in motion early in each match by a play that is seen all too often in New Zealand rugby and that in both cases lead to an opening try for the Australian opposition.

    Both the Crusaders and the Hurricanes sought to move in the opening minutes on to the attack by kicking from their own half deep into their opponents’ territory. The ball – in each case – was easily fielded and when the opposition’s speedy backs, predictably enough, ran it back at them at speed, crucial tackles were missed and, in each case, a try was scored.

    It beggars belief that New Zealand coaches have not warned their teams against the kind of aimless kicking that so often produces an opposition try and that did so again in the two weekend losses.

    A kick downfield that goes too far to be challenged for when it goes to ground or that fails to find touch for a useful gain of territory is nothing more than an invitation to the opposing team to launch an attack, with the all too common outcome that an opposition try is scored or that the line has to be desperately defended.

    The only way of scoring is to have the ball. What is the point of simply kicking it away?

    Do New Zealand coaches never study recordings of the games their teams play? We see the same error and failing in New Zealand rugby over and over again.

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