Tapping into Mallett's mind
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Uncouth might be a strong word, but it has certainly got particularly spicy out here in Sport24 column land, what with certain columnists taking very public shots at other media houses and even individual journalists, and then going on to publish word for word replies from the CEO of SARU...
I suppose each to their own as to how they would like to get their message across, and I am all for questioning methods that are there “Because that is how they have always been done”, but much like clapping or shorts are simply not allowed in a well run press box, perhaps some form of decorum is called for when trying to get one’s point made in the so called formal media?
Says the fat man who is about to publically disagree in the formal media with Jon Cardinelli from keo.co.za, who wrote an article about the All Blacks being the best side in the world because they have the best defence. His argument, which included why the Stormers won the SA Super Rugby Conference, being that the “Current law set prescribes an outstanding defence and kicking game as the key ingredients to any title surge”.
And I would not disagree too much with that...
But saying that the people who plead for the Stormers and Boks to play a more attacking brand of rugby like the All Blacks “Do not have a clue” is perhaps taking things a little far. Especially as I am one of those pleaders. As is Nick Mallett...
Having a few hours to kill before our tee time in the most enjoyable Sunshine Tour Media Challenge at Copperleaf on Sunday, Mallett and I, having done the Sunday paper thing on the plane, found ourselves on the comfy couches of the clubhouse watching the Fijians hammer the Kiwis at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia and talking rugby over a few nervous Cappuccinos.
Mallett really has been a breath of fresh air as an analyst on SuperSport – and credit must go to the broadcaster for allowing the former Bok coach to be so honest and outspoken. As a result Mallett is enjoying himself and actually feels that he can make a difference, which is as it should be given that he has to be one of the more astute rugby brains in the country right now.
Gushing about the role Henry Honiball played for him during his time at the helm, Mallett wants to see the Boks playing a brand of rugby that people want to watch. And that includes a flyhalf taking the ball closer to the advantage line like Honiball used to, aiming for the space between the two defenders rather than at the actual defenders, and looking to offload in the tackle rather than die with the ball and hope for the resultant slower ball via a ruck or maul.
Hear, damn, hear!
So while I do not disagree with the statement that sporting a watertight defence has played a massive role in why the All Blacks are the No 1 side in the world, it is not the reason people love watching them play. Dan Carter, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Hosea Gear and Julian Savea in full flight is why they are the most enjoyable team to watch.
While obviously spending time on perfecting their defensive and kicking game, it has not been at the expense of their attacking game. Which, as alluded to in a previous column, is what the Stormers were guilty of during Super Rugby. Either that, or they just do not have the players to play that sort of game, hence my call for a central drive from SARU to try and produce better skilled and better conditioned players for the national coach to work with.
Sure the current set of laws, where the breakdown and scrums are a bit of a lottery, make it simpler to play without the ball, but the so called “Chicken Wing” law which forces the tackler to provide daylight between himself and the tackled player before being allowed to play the ball is a step in the right direction, and when policed correctly, looks to empower the possession orientated teams rather than the ones looking to kick the ball away.
And here’s hoping the IRB take note, because rugby is competing for the properly under pressure entertainment rand, and I am not sure people will part with it in order to see only kicking and tackling. Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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