Jake encouraging Bulls to offload in the tackle
CAPE TOWN – If the Bulls want to continue their trophy-laden success in the Rainbow Cup, they must continue to increase the tempo of their play, even if European conditions don’t allow for a fast-paced style.
What impressed coach Jake White most about Sunday’s 87-10 annihilation of the Eastern Province Elephants at Loftus was the fact that they didn’t lose their attacking shape in the second half, when the result was already beyond doubt and a number of young reserves had come on.
That is exactly what the Preparation Series is about – getting ready for the Rainbow Cup – and while the weather and pitch conditions in Europe may not be suited to an attacking, ball-in-hand approach, White believes the intensity of the play will push the Bulls to get quicker, compared to the excessive kicking and mauling from most teams in the Currie Cup.
“I don’t think it was too fast, but it’s faster than what it was in our last two tournaments. That is why everyone is emphasising that we must be able to play faster. A lot of people speak about ball-in-play, and that doesn’t just mean when you have the ball. It means it could be 15 kicks across four minutes, and you have to be fit enough to be able to defend and attack, if you get a turnover,” White said.
“Leinster (Irish club) will play like they want to, and the Bulls will play like we want to as well. But within that framework, we won’t be able to get away with not being fit enough or conditioned to play four minutes at a time for up to four, five, six times per game.”
And for a coach who used to pride himself on a Springbok team that was physically dominant and used the lineout as a platform for driving mauls, White thinks differently now about that tactic.
“Maul tries, yes. I don’t want us to be particularly known as a mauling team. To be fair, I’m trying really hard to change it because I think there are times to maul, and there are also times when you’ve got to come up with a couple of plans not to always catch people with the maul,” he said.
“The challenge for us as coaches is that, if the maul is stopped, what do we do?
“What I really enjoyed was when I sent the message on to say let’s see whether we can keep the ball alive. Let’s not run into contact and try and set up the next phase. Let’s see whether or not we can offload in the tackle, and that was good.
“The fact that they were good enough to understand it and execute it is good for us, because it means if we don’t need to create second, third or fourth phases – by going into the breakdowns on the floor – we can keep the ball alive, which is great for us.
“Some coaches will say don’t offload – I’m just happy that we can add that to our game going forward.”