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THE "ALL BLACKS" ONCE - MORE

i • _ = CRITICISM', OF NEW ZEALAND FOOTBALLERS. (Fxou Om Owv CoftsssrovsMT.) LONDON, October 19. , In the November issue of Fry's Magazine, which is out to-day, an article appears ii% which, relatively to Rugby football, the N«w Zealand "visiting team of last .year and their methods are freely criticised. Thei writer is Mr Arthur J. Gould, who is probably the greatest living authority on Ruj^by football. He gained' his first Welsh international, cap in 1885, and he has represented) the. prjncipaljty for upward of 26 times. In 1890 be captained the first' WelslT team which beat England, and the team which won the triple crown in 1893. With' reference to' the New Zca|anders, *'who£o tour last year caused such a, sen' sation," he says: — "Is the visit of tho "AllBlacks ' likely to influence the style of England,' Scotland,' Ireland, sad Wales? We think nob. The New Zealanders brought' with them a /distinctive -formation — seven* forwards, a wing-forward (really an.obstructive half), one half, two five-eighths, three ( three-quarters, and a full back; and in a somewhat modified form it was adopetd by some of the countries and clubs.; but it was dropped before the season was over. The New Zealanders were phenomenally , successful, but .they owed nothing, to their ' formation, except in so* far as it was natura'ly an advantage to have- eight men outside the scrummage available for attack and defence, instead of seven, as under the four three-quarter system. To play, seven forwards aginst eight you must have seven men who are capable of holding *their own against eight, if your opponents hold by the old formation ; and to gain any\ advantage irom the eighth man behind ' the scrummage you -must distribute tho work so as to use all eight. Therein lies the weakness of the New Zealand formation for ordinary teams. To play eight hacks successfully demands a higher standard of individual capacity — a larger measure of judgment — than to play the four threequarter system. Even till this day thereare hundreds., of teams who profess to play the four three-quarter game who practically waste the fourth three-quarter because their players have not the individual capacity to go straight, or the judgment io pass at the right moment. If the a'ighth back is added, there is tho danger that two men. may be wasted. The" Welsh teams — clufar and international — adopted the New Zealand formation for a time; some of their Engli=h opponents did the same ; " but though it worked with moderate success in the match; in which Wales beat New Zealand, in the majority of cases there was a complete failure to get full value out of the eighth man. And though it is. in opposition to the views of many critic3,*\ve say that New Zealand never got full value in^^ean, honest; play as ifc is understood in the United" Kingdom from their wing-forward play. "To call Gallaher and his understudies wing forwards was," ho declares, "a misnomer. The New Zealand wing forward was a second inside half, who never did the work of a forward at all. 'Wing forward ' play of their , own type was one ot the two thing 3 introduced by the New Zealandevs — the other was the assigning of special positions to forwards in the 6erum,-— and jt was absolutely the most objectionable feature which has come under notice daring i the last 20 -years. Gallaher's p.'ay wa# ofitftf

deliberately obstructive, and absolutely opposed to the spirit of Rugby football, as we understand it in this country. It is not in accordance with tie canons of football that a man should deliberately impede an opponent who is going for the ball, that he should act as a shield tor his own half to prevent the opposing half from tackling him, that he should swing round his stern and cause the opposing half, who was trying to run in, to cannon off him. The New Zealand wing forward, of course, did a good deal of legitimate tackling and spoiling work; but, apart from purely obstructive tactics, which are opposed to the spirit of the game, he was not 'value for value' with the other players. Of course, wingforward play is no new thing. It was practised by many great players before New Zealand was dreamt of as a force in Rugby football. For legitimate wingforward play, C. V. Rooke, the Irish international, D. R. Bedell-Sivright, the Scottish forward, and George Boots, the Welsh forward, could have taught Gallaher something in tactics, and could have shown him the art of spoiling work in the spirit of the laws of the game. If wing-forward play is to be resorted to as an occasion*! expedient for attack and defence (it is most effective in spoiling opponents' attack) we have nothing to learn from New Zealand; if Hhe eighth man* is to bo played out of "the scrummage throughout the game, 'what ia -needed is a robust halfback who can pick ap, give a pass, open attack, or run himself; irat tbe last thing we want to *cc in British football is the introduction of .purely obstructive tactics." In conclusion he says .—"The New Zealandecs won their matches not because of their formation, but because they were individually greet players. Their forraatien bad advantages for them, because they had at their command scientific, exceptionally powerful, and perfectly trained ecrmnxnagers, and back* of wonderful pace amd. dodging power. Their individual average was much higher than tbe individual average of fee United Kingdom. As for combination (which is not necessarily affected by special formation), the New Zealanders were not the equals of the average first-class Welsh or English team, and though they took passes wonderfully, they gave them badly. They could teach us nothing in the larger strategy of the game, and in the match at Cardiff their N defeat was due to the triumphant tactics of the Welshmen. Individually, the 15 New Zealanders were better men than the 15 Welshmen; but Wales won through superior strategy, better tactics, and more accurate combination. The one thing which tbe New Zealanders' visit should have done for Rugby football in thcT United Kingdom is to impress the players of to-day — especially of Wales — with a due appreciation of the value of sane individualism There is a tendency under the four three-cpxarter system for players to depend a little too much upon their comrades. The New Zealand players were, above all things, self-reliant. They did not pass for the sake of passing ; and when they had the ball they believed in going straight. Their individualism was tempered by judgment; they did not attempt to achieve the impossible, but they did try to do things themselves— they did try to run straight to their man and then dodge through, — and we learn to do. things by trying to do them. . . . The New Zealanders bavef taught us that after every consideration has been given to sterna, tactics, and formations, < the ultimate result depends upon the individual— the individual ~as he uses or dominates the formation; the individual as he ftte into tho system, doing his best as one of a number who strive for a common end." A capital portrait of "D. Gallaher, captain of the All Blacks," illustrates the article, throughout which, ty the way, a. "g" is in the middle of Gallaher's name.

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THE "ALL BLACKS" ONCE - MORE, Otago Witness, Issue 2751, 5 December 1906

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1,221

THE "ALL BLACKS" ONCE - MORE Otago Witness, Issue 2751, 5 December 1906

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