Idealistic to realistic

How often do we watch our favourite top team perform on the TV and then try to replicate those sorts of plays with our players.

For example, Vince has seen and heard a lot about the 1-3-3-1 pod system for his forwards. But, he cannot seem to translate that into a meaningful game plan.

Mason suggests that Vince needs to match the plan to his team’s abilities and limitations.

Idealistic: The All Blacks

Realistic: Us

Mason asks Vince about his team’s attributes.

This needs an honest assessment.

Vince says:

We are a workmanlike pack, effective in retaining possession, but not especially confrontational, and lacks individuals who could be physically dominant. Smallish set of backs aside from the wingers, like Simon who are tall, strong and fast – these are our main attacking threat.

Mason picks up on the strengths and starts to pull together a tactical solution. This tactical solution is a system, a system that is most likely to allow this team to play to its strengths (here, the wingers) more often.

The system (tactical solution) then becomes about being able to move the ball effectively, but also about being able to hold space for these threats or recognise that if an opposition team is blocking this space they are providing an opportunity elsewhere.


A good way to see how flexible these solutions are is to try using IF, THEN.

Let’s say the option is to move the ball to the wing with a number of viable receivers running short/unders lines to hold defenders. (A short or unders line with where a potential receiver runs from out-to-in).

IF defenders are sliding off of these short/unders lines THEN we must use them to penetrate.

IF the defence defend with wings up to negate our threat, THEN we kick into the space behind.


The tactical solution is a system.

If we have a system, we also need a performance solution.

Mason says:

“Although the playing principles here are sound, the players probably needed some skill development to make them more effective/or give them alternative solutions. 

For example, players might be struggling to get the ball to the right wing because they are less proficient at the left-hand pass. 

Also, the wingers might not be great at catching the ball out of the air, so that might negate the option of a kick pass. These are things that can be developed over the season to carry on added layers to the game model.”

The trick is to work on the performance solution, that is the skill development, if you are going to work with the system.

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