• Three Little Words!

    The crucial moment in the Black Ferns’ Rugby World Cup triumph came in the closing minute. The Red Roses had used a penalty to kick to the corner, and from the throw-in that followed they had clearly planned to use a rolling maul to get the ball across the line – a tactic that had already produced three tries for them during the match and that had been utilised on numerous occasions over the long period of their world dominance.

    The lineout was clearly going to be the last play of the game and the try would have secured victory. It was expected on all sides that, following the well-established practice of thousands of teams before them that had been faced with this prospect, the Black Ferns would not contest the lineout – a tactic usually justified on the specious ground that jumping for the ball would merely distract from the crucial task of resisting the rolling maul.

    No one watching the game could doubt that the odds were strongly on the Red Roses winning the ball and then driving it across the line, whatever desperate efforts were made to withstand them.

    Miraculously, however, it now emerges that Wayne Smith, the Black Ferns coach, who had constantly urged his team during their preparation for the World Cup to play with courage and daring had got a message to them that at such a crucial moment they should “Get someone up!”

    He was saying in other words – ‘“Don’t follow the usual practice, but contest the lineout.” He calculated that the Red Roses would not expect the Ferns to jump for the ball and would feel able – as usual – to then settle down to organising the rolling maul that they knew would produce the winning try.

    When the ball was thrown in, the Ferns duly put up a jumper who surprised the England jumper, to the extent that she failed to catch it cleanly and knocked it forward. The knock-on was signalled by the referee, and because time was up, it meant the end of the match. Daring and the unconventional had produced the victory.

    The lesson is there to be learned, not only in the same particular circumstances but also across the game as a whole. Think for yourselves and do what makes sense to you. Three little words made the difference!

Leave a reply.