What has Jamie Joseph done for Japan?

Japan beat South Africa in a pool game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup but fell just short of qualifying for the knockouts. They became the first team to win three games and not qualify. At the 2019 World Cup Japan not only qualified, but they also topped their own pool, which contained two so-called […]

What has Jamie Joseph done for Japan?

Japan beat South Africa in a pool game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup but fell just short of qualifying for the knockouts. They became the first team to win three games and not qualify.

At the 2019 World Cup Japan not only qualified, but they also topped their own pool, which contained two so-called ‘tier-one’ nations.

What has Jamie Joseph implemented as coach?

Fast-flowing rugby tied with great handling.

This is one thing Joseph managed to have his players master. There’s an offloading game in Japanese rugby which has been simply a brilliant edge to their attack. Their quick recycling can catch defenders unaware at times.

Kotaro Matsushima (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A good example: when Kotaro Matsushima scored a try against Russia in the first match it came through great hands offloaded by the masterful Timothy Lafaele and then the offload by Ryoto Nakamura.

An even better one would be the try against Scotland in the final pool stage game. It starts with a distribution from Yu Tamura and then to a forward runner, Shota Horie. Horie makes contact, offloads the ball to the big man Lappies Labuschagne. He takes contact, offloads to Lafaele, who gave the final offload for Keita Inagaki’s try. Where did this try come from? The first break by Kotaro Matsushima and then the pass out from the ruck.

Kenki Fukuoka’s break against South Africa was the best exhibition of their ball skills. Great hands fired the ball away through a series of runners before the ball came out onto the edge to Kenki Fukuoka. Fukuoka carried the ball, going for an in-out step on Cheslin Kolbe and making a long line break, also stepping through Willie le Roux’s tackle before finally being brought down by Damian De Allende. Japan use the handling to fire the ball out to the wing, where their fastest player, Fukuoka, is.

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Yu Tamura is used as a distributor as he has good skill in spotting space. Some strong passing from him was also the set-up to multiple Japanese tries.

They have one of the world’s best pair of midfielders in Ryoto Nakamura and Timothy Lafaele, who are probably the best pair of offloading midfielders. One excellent example would be against Ireland in their upset win. These men are the flash players. They are not the generals on the pitch, but they inject themselves into the play and make those crucial passes when Japan go for the try play.

One classic example of this would be Kenki Fukuoka’s try against Ireland. The ball comes fast from Fumiaki Tanaka off the ruck into the hands of Nakamura. A brilliant flat pass to Lafaele on the edge before the quick hands form the big Japanese centre puts Kenki Fukuoka through to score.

Japan were also able to produce such moments against South Africa. Off the scrum, Lafaele takes the ball as a strike phase carrier, doing a one-handed flick offload in the tackle back to distributor Tamura positioned with several out-the-back options lined up outside him.

On defence, though they may not be the best in the world, they have some really solid tacklers in the forward pack and others. Joseph has taught his players to be fearless in the tackle and amp up the physicality to drive back the opposition.

The best offense is a good defence. By smothering the inside options, the only way the ball can go is outwards. Kenki Fukuoka’s intercept against Ireland would epitomise this. The Japanese defenders closed down the options for Ireland as the ball flew wide before Fukuoka shot up on the last one, tapped the ball and got control of it before sprinting through to the line.

Although he is eventually chased down, it had got Japan to the five-metre line.

Source : The Roar More   

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How have the Boks used Handre Pollard?

Recently, we have seen Handre Pollard develop into one of the world’s best flyhalves, and his role for the Boks has been both in fielding kicks and the kicking-and-passing game, as well as some carrying game. South Africa play with two defensive fullbacks in the field – Pollard and Willie Le Roux. They rotate between […]

How have the Boks used Handre Pollard?

Recently, we have seen Handre Pollard develop into one of the world’s best flyhalves, and his role for the Boks has been both in fielding kicks and the kicking-and-passing game, as well as some carrying game.

South Africa play with two defensive fullbacks in the field – Pollard and Willie Le Roux. They rotate between the two of them to field kicks and restart the play from the kicks.

This is exceptionally prominent against Italy in the World Cup. Le Roux fields the ball with Pollard alongside him, boots the ball high, Pollard chases. Although that play failed with Tommaso Allan still winning the high-ball contest, it looked like how they were using their defensive fullbacks. Have him field the ball deep, and then he can go to the skies and the boot from there.

There was a prominent example in the opening moments of their clash with England to claim the Holy Grail of rugby. After England play some phases and later boot it back, Pollard fields the ball somewhere midway in the pitch. He runs a bit, before booting the ball high to the skies and sprinting after it. His straight line and momentum allowed him to leap for the ball and beat George Ford in the contest.

The scrummage is for penalties, dominating with the world’s best pack on the globe, to earn penalties for their metronome to smash through the uprights. This is the reason behind his 22-point haul against England.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Then we have an attacking game in both carrying and passing that Pollard is absolutely integral to, whatever haters like Ben Smith would say.

When Pollard is on the pitch, he often stands behind the strike phase. Faf de Klerk is the main passer for the forwards, while Pollard is more of a back line distributor and playmaker.

South Africa have three primary playmakers: Pollard, Le Roux and De Klerk.

As he stands behind the strike phase, it opens up an option for a pass from behind the strike phase and then with Pollard to fire it out to the back line organised alongside him. He often plays several phases standing behind the strike phase, readying the Springboks’ attacking line.

If South Africa cannot thin the line enough, he slots back into position and calls for a kick. When the line is thinned, the edge of the defence then fires the ball away to release a player and cause a line break.

Set play distributor
In their set-piece back line tries, it often comes up with a hard first-phase carry from Damian de Allende, with Pollard and Le Roux organising out-the-back options for further assaults on the opposition defence.

Against Japan in the pre-World Cup match, we have this being very prominent. One try came off Handre Pollard taking the ball from behind De Allende, firing it flat and far to Le Roux, who gives the final pass to release Makazole Mapimpi to score.

In another of Mapimpi’s tries, we have Pollard take it from behind a forward strike play before sending it through the hands of Le Roux and other teammates before Pieter-Steph du Toit throws the final pass on the edge to Mapimpi, drawing up space for Mapimpi to tear up trees and score.

Springboks

(Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images)

Long passes
When it comes to creating space, the job falls between Pollard and Le Roux. Sometimes, Pollard does the job by himself. He slots in at first receiver, flings the ball over the heads and into the arms of the winger. This sometimes causes line breaks for the Boks and always a territorial gain.

Le Roux has sometimes slotted in at first receiver to drop off releasing passes to test the line and thin out the defenders on the fat side. Also, most prominently against Wales, he was throwing multiple long and flat passes out wide to thin the defence.

Hard carrying game
Although the line maintains its structure, Pollard goes himself. He cannonballs his 98-kilogram frame into the bodies of defenders, and sometimes scores tries and often gets past the line with gain-line successes.

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Territorial game
Pollard, Le Roux and De Klerk were banging kicks to keep the Springboks going forwards and pressurising the defenders.

For an example, against Wales, Faf de Klerk box-kicked the ball high, which was fielded by Leigh Halfpenny. The fullback was smashed by Siya Kolisi. Wales played through several more phases, before booting it back. Each phase, the South Africans pinned them further back. Finally, with the ball booted back, Pollard fields the ball in exactly the same spot that Halfpenny did.

We have other occasions that Pollard’s kicks went a little too deep and ended up with uncontested catches and the awarding of free kicks. However, the main intent is for South Africa to keep the opposition pinned back, and he has kicked well for the Boks territorially, often dropping into the pocket to signal for a kick.

If this game play using Pollard continues against opponents in future Test matches, it would certainly be something to look out for.

Source : The Roar More   

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