Fewer and fewer sidesteps, some say the sidestep passes into history and may become extinct. Not true! The sidestep lives!
On November 7th 1999 The Independent - London published an article by Andrew Longmore. The title was...
I agree with much of the article, fewer and fewer sidesteps were being seen and there was the possibility they would become extinct.
However, I must disagree with Andrew's suggestion of an inherent weakness in the technique, the idea that sidesteps at pace are in the genes and that sidesteps are not possible with modern defence.
Andrew Longmore appears to suggest a reason why the sidestep passes into history.
He explains that sidesteppers are vulnerable because the technique entails, in effect, briefly becoming almost stationary.
This may be true about the jink, but certainly not the sidestep done expertly at pace.
In fact, the opposite is true. A sidestep done at pace involves re-directing a great deal of kinetic energy.
Any player colliding unexpectedly with a player sidestepping at pace may well come off second best.
Don't just take my word for the speed...
Gareth Edwards in his book "GARETH An Autobiography", 1978, page 158, tells a lovely story about Gerald Davies - read the book.
They were playing against each other. Edwards says he knew that Davies was able to change direction by almost ninety degrees and felt sure he had Davies covered.
What Edwards didn't know at the time - and so he was left empty handed, was that Davies could do it at top speed!
The article includes a quote from Ian McGeechan "You can teach players to sidestep, but to do it at pace, that's in the genes".
No. It's poor teaching methods and not enough practice!
People can be taught to change body position in mid-air (diving, trampolining, gymnastics) and on the ground (gymnastics).
Footballers who embrace Brazillian techniques persuade opponents you are going one way, then go another.
Even if it was in the genes, where is the current batch of sidesteppers with the genes!
It's about desire!
It's no coincidence you see an expert sidestepper, imagine you can do it and then it's true! Remember this!!!
Everything goes in cycles - it's been defence for quite a while.
Of those (millions, I imagine) touched by David Watkins, I was one. I saw what he did and was inspired - I wanted to do it as well.
Another was Phil Larder - he had to face the sidestepping wizard!
I found some details about Larder in the document "defence_all.doc".
I found it and downloaded it by Googling "phil larder cope david watkins" and clicking the link to "http://rugbycoach.homestead.com/files/defence_all.doc"
Unable to contain Watkins, Larder evolved a type of zone defence, involving three players watching the ball-carrier. He went on to use it in coaching defence at the highest level.
Defence has been the focus for a long time.
Concentrate on attacking play and sidestepping ability and most players in a team could dramatically change direction at will.
There is always broken play. ANY observant person will see sidestepping opportunities in EVERY game.
Would the defence hold? I doubt it.
They'd certainly have more problems than now!
It's time for the next part of the cycle - ATTACK!