The Six Nations touring sides are in for a tough time down under this summer as southern hemisphere defensive units activate ‘beast mode’.
When one thinks of rugby highlights, one will automatically look at huge point scoring moments, last minute or length-of-the-field turnover tries, drop goals and pressure penalties to win a series or tournament.
Often the headlines are reserved for these pivotal attacking moments and as a result the defensive efforts made by many on the field are overlooked or ignored by the public. While Brian O’Driscoll was scoring at will for Leinster and Ireland, it was his centre partner Gordon D’Arcy who was often ridiculed for not being able to emulate his more famous partner.
Little was made of the defensive efforts D’Arcy routinely made on the field. In the breakdown, the ruck or steadfast defensive, D’arcy was a menace. In fact, such was his tenacity with or without the ball that he often forced opposition lines to give up half a metre, thus affording O’Driscoll more than enough time and space to decimate a defensive.
In the southern hemisphere the style of rugby union is such that the running game and hand off are far more prevalent than up north where things have become more a chess games where attrition is king.
It is this southern style of play which has therefore given rise to the showcase of defensive prowess that has become routine in the southern game. To combat the fast flowing game and speed runners, Super Rugby defences have become high impact, powerful and agile units.
It is no wonder that there is a real sense of trepidation among home supporters as England, Ireland and Wales travel south for summer series against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa respectively. The differing styles of play between Six Nations sides and Rugby Tour sides will be put into stark contrast and there is a fear that the European nations will come up short.
Based on the evidence below, we might well fear what is to come. These ‘everyday’ try-saving defensive efforts are truly world-class.
Video Credit: Observatoire Bearnais 2
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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