Conrad Smith’s dummy pass is doing the rounds on the social media, and rightly so. It was a moment to admire. It was a moment of brilliance.
A moment of brilliance made possible by him doing something that many players, amateur and professional forget: holding the ball in two hands.
“Hold the ball in both hands. It puts the opposition in two minds. Only transfer the ball from one hand to free the other for a fend or to jab the opposition’s windpipe. You see, you can be very effective.” said Mister Gormsby, and of course he was right.
I remember a match some years ago where Chris Ashton held the ball in one hand and was slammed by the BBC commentators when his obvious fend failed. Austin Healy said he would have scored a try if he had held the ball in two hands and been able to manoeuvre.
It is a thing coaches at the basic levels keep telling their young charges. At senior level, coaches might not hammer on it, but they sure do remind the players of it often enough. It is so simple, but seems to be so hard to remember.
At the professional level, it is rare enough to see a player do this in running play. But Conrad Smith showed us how effective it can be.
I am almost tempted to say “naturally a New Zealander shows us the importance and beauty of basic skills”. I should be saying that, but it is such a cliche to say it I do not want to.
Basic play can be absolutely beautiful when done right. There is no need for fancy tricks in rugby if the basics can be done well. And simply holding the ball in two hands, throwing a dummy at low speed and dodging through gaps is a sight to make you shiver.
Paul Peerdeman, Pundit Arena