Welsh rugby sidesteps

Welsh rugby sidesteps are known by other terms, evasion, footwork, steps, trickery, wizardry, something from nothing and jinks.

Where do Welsh sidesteps come from?

Of course many countries have players who sidestep - but it`s always the same country with most and best.

I base this on sidesteps captured on camera in high level games. Over the last several decades Welsh rugby is miles in front.

It`s a proud tradition - part of Welsh culture.

Before that?...

Read player autobiographies of sidestepping players and you'll see many references to playing

  • on small/narrow playing areas
  • against bigger/older children when they were young

  • on concrete or tarmac
  • near walls/railings/hedges

all good reasons to change direction quickly and avoid being tackled!

Contrast this with the wide open spaces of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia with plenty of room for full size rugby fields and - we might have the answer!

The need to be tricky and elusive in Wales would have been helped by role models who had gone through the process themselves and found being evasive is a fantastic skill to have, even on bigger pitches.

Gareth Edwards tells of his early rugby playing days on a narrow strip of land, "Cae Archie".

The "Cae" (Welsh for field) belonged to the local farmer, Archie - hence "Cae Archie". Gareth tells how Cae Archie

was just a narrow strip, about twenty yards wide... .Somehow all the boys from the village fitted into it....carefully laid sawdust touchlines and try-lines. Very professional.

GARETH An autobiography, Gareth Edwards (ISBN 0 09 134800 5)

Read it, you`ll love it! I bought an autographed copy second-hand, just a few quid extra,

And this was before he was even six years old!

An early Welsh sidestep example

There must be hundreds, thousands even, of fantastic sidesteps that were never recorded. Probably just as many were recorded, but partially hidden by other players or not fully appreciated because of camera position and so on.

Some of these Welsh rugby sidesteps can be seen as clips on other sites, some only on rugby DVD or rugby video tapes. Even if the clip is available free on other sites it is well worth the small price of owning your own copy.

When you have your own copy you can view easily, usually with much better clarity and size. You can also inspect incidents in slow motion and see exactly how it happens!

Clips - you peer at them, good for finding out what to buy.

Your own DVD/tape - you live it!

One of the earliest recorded sidesteps I have seen is that of Welsh rugby player Ken Jones in the game against New Zealand in 1953.

Ken Jones played for Newport, Wales and the British Lions. He was also an Olympic sprinter.

Wales attacking towards the camera move the ball to the left wing from where it is kicked across field towards the right wing. Ken Jones collects the ball after one high bounce, sidesteps the number two covering across field and scores close to the posts.

Because of the unusual camera angle, you can see exactly what Ken Jones does when he sidesteps his opponent - nice finishing!

Look for this on 101 Great Welsh Tries. The indicator on my DVD player says

More Welsh rugby sidesteps

1969 Wales v France

The Welsh scrum-half was Gareth Edwards. He was much more than that. He was a sidestepping block-busting finisher!

Wales in red going right.

After some loose play following a scrum on the French 10 metre line, Wales get the ball.

Jarrett gets possession, makes ground down the centre of the field and puts in a pass to Taylor as they approach the French 22m line.

The ball is then passed by Taylor to Edwards under difficult circumstances.

Edwards is running fast, backing up out on the right wing - nothing new, he`s been running this pace most of his life!

Edwards reaches back to get it and dra-a-a-gs it in on the French 22.

He cleverly sidesteps a French player, stepping inside him just metres from touch.

It`s not perfect, I think he goes slighly too soon because the player he attempts to beat manages to get an arm in the way and slow Edwards down.

This brings him within range and a covering French player grabs him.

But Edwards keeps going. He shakes him off and bullocks his way forward towards the remaining defenders.

Driving through one he carries the other on his back as he forces his way over for a fantastic try.

That's what I love, his never-say-die attitude

Gareth Edwards, what a player!

"Well, few people can wriggle out of as many tackles as that!", says commentator Cliff Morgan.

It's on 101 Great Welsh Tries - my DVD player says it`s at the 1:5:29:58 mark.

1973 Wales vs Ireland

The Welsh outside-half was Phil Bennett. His sensational sidestep kick-started a try from nothing!

Phil Bennett, covering back, collects the ball on the far side of the field. It`s not far from touch and a couple of metres inside the Wales 22.

He lazily sizes up the situation as he jogs slowly and shapes to kick - just what`s expected.

But no...

He shapes to run the ball, heading towards centre field with his support and a meeting with the Irish chasers.

It`s all a show!

Suddenly he throws a small but savage sidestep, turning to his left. He claps on the pace, going straight up field.

The two Irish chasers, not even in the picture when Bennett steps, are left for dead by the sharp change in direction and pace.

Jinking past another he`s pulled down by the next.

Falling, he spins the ball out to his support.

Ireland are reeling. After Bennetts vicious thrust, they fail to recover.

Some more slick play and Wales are in at the corner.

TRY to Jim Shanklin!

You`ve just got to see it...

  • Artful
  • skillfull
  • fast

  • expert sidestepper
  • prepared to back himself
  • something from nothing

Phil Bennett, what a player!

See the rugby DVD 101 Great Welsh Tries - my DVD player says it`s at the 1:2:10:34 mark.

You can also see this on a clip on the internet. It`s not my clip - don`t blame me if it has been removed...no you can`t...it`s been removed (account closed because of copyright violations!)

1977 Wales vs Scotland

1977 Welsh winger Gerald Davies and outside-half Phil Bennett display their sidestep magic in one fantastic try.

What`s going on?

Wales in their famous red shirts are playing left to right.

The Scottish fullback, Irvine, chips ahead hoping to regather but JPR falls on the ball and Wales keep possession with a bit of scrambling defence.

Wales move the ball and Gerald Davies pops up unexpectedly. He gets the ball on the Wales 22.

He doesn`t consider kicking.

Backs himself, jinking past two Scottish chasers in quick succession.

Then a palm-off - three defenders beaten!

Passes to Bennett backing up fast on the outside.

Bennett passes and play flows downfield towards the Scottish 22.

Bennett backing up again, this time on the inside, gets the ball back via a really slick pass.

With one superb jink beats two Scottish defenders.

He coasts to the line and Wales are in under the posts.

TRY!...to Phil Bennett and Wales.

Players with great vision and great skill prepared to back themselves...

what do you call it - something from nothing

Gerald Davies, Phil Bennett - fan-tastic!

Just imagine doing that...

Oh what a feeling - develop your own with EvtecHs.

It's on the rugby DVD "101 Great Welsh Tries" - my DVD player says it`s at the 1:4:26:10 mark. You`ll see loads of other sidesteps on it.

Use slow motion. Study them - they`ll come in useful.

You may find it on other videos and DVDs. You may even find it as a clip on a site but many have been removed because they breach copyright.

At the moment it is at about 4:07 minutes on this YouTube clip

It`s well worth it, get your own copy!

Then, just imagine, get your own sidesteps...

1988 Wales vs Scotland

Welsh winger Ieuan Evans displays his sidestep magic in one fantastic jinking run.

Wales in their usual bright red shirts are playing left to right.

It opens with a scrum near the Scottish 10 metre line near the touch line on the far side of the pitch.

Wales win the ball and it`s sent 10m almost straight backwards to the fly half . He sends it another 5 metres back to the inside centre.

That`s nearly 20 metres behind the gain-line aready. Plenty of work to do! The ball is moved right across the field.

Then Ieuan Evans gets it far out on the right wing.

He`s about 30 metres out from the Scotish line.

All that effort and Wales are just a few metres ahead of where they were on the other side of the field!

With his progress blocked he jinks inside...

  • then jinks again
  • then JINKS AGAIN

Four times he jinks and beats a Scottish defenderbefore finishing it off by forcing his way over close to the posts despite a desperate tackle close to the line.

Brilliant individual skills, try to Ieuan Evans!

fast, expert sidestepper.

Ieuan manages to keep a straight face despite enthusiastic congratulations. Eventually he allows himself a small punch of the air and a little smile.

Great rugby!

See the rugby DVD 101 Great Welsh Tries - my DVD player says it`s at the 1:2:14:13 mark. There are sidesteps galore on it.

You can also see this on a clip on the internet.
I saw it at 5:33 into this YouTube clip.

Recent Welsh rugby sidesteps

Welsh winger Shane Williams carries on the tradition of sidestep magic.

Shane Williams gets the ball anywhere on the field.

You`re almost guaranteed a bit of sidestep magic if your eyes can keep up with him.

Look at forums or comments on video clips and you'll see arguments about "fastest" or "best" winger. Contenders include Williams.

You rarely see arguments about best evasion skills.

There's only one thing Shane Williams couldn't avoid - and that`s the title "World Champion Sidestepper" - and I don't think he'd want to!

You want to sidestep well - watch Shane Williams as much as possible.

FAST, brilliant sidestepper.

Shane Williams - brilliant skills!

You can see him on many clips on the internet. Search for his name.

One clip is a collection created by someone as a tribute to Williams. It actually includes footage of other players sidestepping. Shane Williams is nearly always number 11. Great song too, sung by Jennifer Saunders. Shane Williams - Hero.

Update - sorry the YouTube user has removed the clip.

One I like a lot is the one I link to on the rugby jink page. As far as I know it`s still there.