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Modern attacking backline: flat or deep?

  • 03-05-2018 9:48pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,191 ✭✭✭ swiwi_


    When I was a kid, the mantra was that an attacking backline should be deep.

    In recent years, my impression is that the modern attack is more flat, with passes on the gainline. This is what I prefer.

    But my coaches are convinced depth on attack is where rugby is at.

    Is Swiwi right: modern attacking backline formations are more flat...?

    or are my coaches right: depth rules?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,035 ✭✭✭✭ Squidgy Black


    All depends on the backline I guess. These days it's shifted towards playing flat because players tend to be physically bigger and more into the collision and playing crashball at 12 and then hitting the runner off of that ruck, and spotting a gap.

    I feel like it used to be more about space and running at the space. Deeper backline would suit a lighter/faster team with more space for them to attack.


  • Registered Users Posts: 37,978 irishbucsfan


    The biggest reason flat lines work is actually because of the development of skills and people's ability to throw the ball reliably accurately flat and keep breaking the gainline phase after phase.

    The truth is that both are absolutely crucial and teams who end up favouring one over the other become very easy to defend against.

    There are two important types of space you care about when attacking. There is horizontal space, which is the space you can create between opposition defenders, and there is vertical space which is the space you can create between your attacking line and the opposition's defensive line (in a straight line forwards). Very often you can not create horizontal space without first creating vertical space, and you can not create vertical space without creating horizontal space. That's why you often hear people say "you have to earn the right to go wide."

    The depth of your attack should be heavily influenced by where you are in your battle for vertical space. If you can't get across the gainline in midfield, then you are really not going to be very incisive out wide (exhibit A, Leinster's attack before/after messiah Henshaw). That's why you often will see modern attacking systems with a second layer behind their midfield to give them the option of going wide while still holding the opposition's midfield defense. That type of system is probably the easiest way to get the best of both worlds quickly, if you have forwards with double-digit brain cells.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    flat please


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,338 ✭✭✭✭ Losty Dublin


    Flat suits you if you intend to line break with a crash ball from your first centre or a reverse-inside pass or to use some sort of inside running loop from the 3/4. (Brian O'Driscoll). As the passes are shorter the chances of knock forwards are reduced as are the more sets of hands close by to pass it to. Flat works as well if you want to utilise your front five to carry the ball over the gain line a lot more.

    The drawbacks of being flat include the chances of being tackled in possession are greater, as are the risks of interceptions or charge downs at kicks. The pressures of rush defence can also force errors upon your team while set pieces can go awry if the wrong man gets in the way at the wrong time.

    Deep sits better if you want to get the outside centre or full back line to go around them with old fashioned speed and space (Tommy Bowe.) and if you can trust your back row to clear out and protect the full back line in the event of their being tackled by defenders. Deep also suits your fly half more should he need to kick a ball onward while teams who are short a player can easily be stretched with relative ease by a simple back movement.

    Pitfalls of deep include a heightened dependance on fast accurate passing, a risk of slower play on wet or muddy pitches, over reliance on your half backs puts pressure on them while marking or attackers is somewhat easier as tactics can be easier read.

    Clear as mud :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,731 ✭✭✭ Tim Robbins


    swiwi_ wrote: »
    When I was a kid, the mantra was that an attacking backline should be deep.

    In recent years, my impression is that the modern attack is more flat, with passes on the gainline. This is what I prefer.

    But my coaches are convinced depth on attack is where rugby is at.

    Is Swiwi right: modern attacking backline formations are more flat...?

    or are my coaches right: depth rules?

    I'm not a coach.

    But I would say it really depends on a lot of things and you can always create a pod with one man flat and then one man deep and then pass out the back door or put it between them to the next man.

    Basically, I like attacks where it is hard to predict where the ball is going and when a man gets the ball he always has options.

    Nothing but flat sounds like League to me and nothing but deep sounds like old skool 80's.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,406 ✭✭✭ joseywhales


    Triangles everywhere


  • Registered Users Posts: 38,249 ✭✭✭✭ Guy:Incognito


    The level is going to dictate a lot too. In general, the lower the level of the players the lower the level of the ref. Playing a lot of flat balls at lower levels is going to result in a lot more forward passes called imo.


  • Registered Users Posts: 654 ✭✭✭ Gonad


    You can go left , you can go right

    You can even sit tight !!!

    You can run fast or you can slack



    If that all fails


























    Just run as fast as you can around the back !


  • Registered Users Posts: 37,978 irishbucsfan


    Triangles everywhere

    Doesn’t work past 3rd/4th phase at most levels, in my experience


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,595 ✭✭✭✭ stephen_n


    All depends on the level you’re playing at, which will dictate the strength of the defense against you. Most lower level defenses leave space out wide. Which would mean it can be exploited by a deeper attack. More organized defenses require the attacking team to vary the approach. The real answer is it’s not either or but both.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,406 ✭✭✭ joseywhales


    Triangles everywhere

    Doesn’t work past 3rd/4th phase at most levels, in my experience

    Yeah against a really good defense you would have to be super fit to have guys make good decisions and work off the ball to set that up on multiple phases. Is there a better feeling in life than taking a flat ball , adrenaline rushing with a train of a backrow on your left and right to pass to?!


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