It’s the last minute of this week’s game between the Blue Bulls and the Brumbies in Pretoria. The Brumbies trailing by a point are moving the ball left and right trying to find some space. Stephen Larkham throws a long pass that bounces well in front of any Brumbies player. Joel Wilson however, continues his line, collects the ball after one bounce and goes clean through the defensive line. Two passes later and Mortlock is celebrating the winning score.
Whether Wilson would have made this break if the pass had been put perfectly in his hands is debatable. You see, no matter how much coaching goes in, when an opposition pass doesn’t go to hand, defences subconsciously relax a little. Wynand Olivier – I love the way the Boks pronounce his name by the way – visibly eased off.
So, with this in mind, and defences so strong, maybe a case could be put forward for deliberately throwing a pass with the intention of it landing in front of the intended recipient? Maybe distributors will learn how to pass the ball so that its bounce can be easily read?
Players down the years have spent time trying to predict the bounce of a loose ball. Watching it closely just as it hits the ground is the key. Christian Cullen was a master. It was no mistake that every ball he chased seemed to magically bounce into his waiting hands. And recently Will Greenwood has been talking about the ball popping up on its 3rd bounce.
Granted, the tactic would probably be a bit hazardous, but on a greasy surface when the bounce of the ball is slightly more predictable, who’s to say it wouldn’t win you a game.