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Monday, January 09, 2006


General Discussions: The loose forward role.

Following on from our interview with Jo Trojer, President and Coach - Rugby Club Innsbruck and Coach/Manager - Austrian Sevens team, we present Jo's instructions to his 6, 7 and 8. Jo operates on the Kiss Principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid, and it has certainly been working for his club.

No doubt many rugby enthusiasts will have their own snippets they'd care to add and Jo would welcome any suggestions in the comments thread.

I am not sure what I am (old school or modern) but what I tell my players when it comes to flankers and their job is, IMO, simply common sense more than anything else.

I play an openside flanker (OSF) and a blindside flanker (BSF), my OSF is one of my best players when it comes to defence and fitness with my BSF a very close second. I select my best (1 on 1) defenders at 6/7/8/12/13, they are all big hitters.

Anyway getting back to loose trio play, I tell my OSF to scrum down on the open side because he can then play to a certain set of goals I lay out for him and likewise my BSF. (Keep it simple and stupid is my motto!)

Defence: OSF covers the opposition 10's inside channel (Channel between scrum and 10) if the ball moves to 12 he covers the channel between 10 and 12 and also if the 12 tries an inside step the OSF can nail him.

My BSF on the other hand is the cover defence. He first checks that no-one tries breaking down the blind-side, then he loops around the back of the scrum and covers for any missed tackles up to the far end of the pitch. If there is a 'ball and all' tackle by a back-line player or the OSF he is/should be the first support player there and either tries to steal the ball or clear the ruck.

My Number 8 in the meantime has covered the channel between 10 & 12 and is also near the breakdown to either clear the ruck or steal the ball.

If the opposition attack blind then I have my BSF and Number 8 to cover a shorter distance and the backs defence has already seen the danger and reacted accordingly (I hope).

That is my defensive strategy in a nutshell!

My attacking strategy is even simpler: The loose trio is on the shoulder of the ball carrying back-line player. For example; OSF on the inside shoulder of his 10 with the Number 8 attacking on the out-side shoulder of his 10 and the BSF running in from behind and is the 3rd option to create a diamond shape attack.

This is just the sample of what I want from the guys but when it comes to attack-play the guys have to react to the opposition defence and I don't want the attack to be too structured. But in general the attack is in the diamond shape with ball carrier having 3 options (Left/right and a support runner behind him)

So far it has been working!

it is an area of play i have studied quite extesively, i will give some views tomorrow on this issue you might find interesting.
This is a rugby enthusiast- and a scholar of the game- Go Jo :-)  
Yes, please, PA!

You're right, OO, few people more passionate about their rugby than Jo.
So how does Schalk Burger fit into this pattern? And Cronj√©?  
Well this is what always has been their jobs. Like he said keep it simple. And yes like so many things in life, rugby is common sense. Great to hear he is not trying to over complicate things.

This way the players will get to know what is expected of them and can build on that with their own talent and flair. (After they did what is expected from them.)

Great thinking Jo.
Schalk is given the 'loose cannon' role, Boertjie! Just get out there and be all three ;-)

I was pleasantly surprised to read that Jacques Cronje is the 2nd strongest Bok after CJ in the recent Bok testing. Surprising considering his somewhat lacklustre showing on the EOYT?
That is very simple and probably extremely effective.

Now Jo

Where do your loosies go when there's an up and under and your FB is isolated with the wings.

I always thought the opensider was supposed to be first to the breakdown ball clearing the ruck, while blindsider has more of a ball carrier / defensive role?


Half the trouble with the Bok setup seems to be that there are no cleraly dfined simple roles for the players. With Schalk primarily being a ball stealer, JVN primarily being a ball carrier / extra backline player (not a crash baller) and Juan Smith being a defender.

Yet all three are somehow expected to do everything like when we were at school.
Hi Davids,
The blog is a simplified way of explaining what the primary objectives are for the loosies. IMO every single player is a potential stealer. The tackler or the first to the breakdown should do his best to steal the ball. For example De Wet Barry is center and steals more ball than most OSF :o) I also look at the size and physical attributes of my players to decide whether he will be more effective as a OSF or BSF. My OSF is smaller lower center of gravity while my BSF is an extra jumper in the line-out and in return a better carrier because of size and hand-off (longer reach). IMO Burger should be BSF and someone like Watson, Tjibilika or Kuun the OSF for SA. I will try to write a more detailed profile of what I want from my players in different positions, this way you guys can point out weaknesses I have not thought of etc.
To Davids,

Regarding the FB under high ball question: With my basic formation in defence regarding the loosies, both my wingers hang back a bit because there is adequate defensive cover in the front-line of my defence. This way I have all 3 players covering a chip kick or up and under. The wing only moves up into the defensive line when he sees the ball going wide. I don't want to give too much away to other Austrian team who may be reading this :o)

Ja I see why you'd want to keep that to yourself!!


Thanks for the response.

I think you echo the feelinggs of all South Afruicans by saying that we should be more clear about the roles our loosies play.

I quite like the look of Tim Dlulane who will be at the Bulls this year as flank. Might be the perfect foil at 6 as he has speed and is a powerful stocky short guy.

I like your analysis too.

Thanks for the insight.
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