Saturday, 3 March 2007

Scotland v Italy

Scotland v Italy.

This was a very interesting match in terms of strategy as the state of the game was dictated to very early on with 3 Italian tries. It showed a huge the difference in attack and defence of the two teams very early on, and showed the mind set and beliefs of each team as the game progressed.

Italy was very obviously employing a blitz defence and bore early fruit in with a charge down and a try. I am a big fan of blitz defence as it ticks all the boxes with classic strategy. In “The book of five rings”, Miyamoto talks about defending at the first impulse of the attack. He says to stop them on the a of attack and l of the leap. Part of strategy is to use the opportunities presented to you quickly. You should never try to create opportunities or gaps but be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. Secondly in classic strategy speed and momentum of a move are the corner stones of attack. By employing the blitz defence you prevent this speed and momentum and the attackers are likey to make mistakes that you can capitalise upon. Miyamoto also takes about flustering your opponent and disrupting their rhythm. So the blitzing work and Italy scored an early try.

Scotland was obviously flustered and want to get back in the game quickly. They forced some passes in their own half and again fell foul of the Italians Blitz defence. On the subject of forcing the game we are back to not creating opportunities but seeking them out. “move into new positions quickly and out of old positions slowly” Art of War by Sun Tzu. My interpretation is always considered the defensive position of your new position created by your move. Strangely enough Scotland seemed even move flustered and hadn’t worked out the Italian defence and again forced the move which the Italians took advantage of by being in the right place at the right time due to the blitz defence.

21 points down the momentum of the game was in favour of the Italians and Scots need to get some points on the board. Later on Scotland had several chances to kick at goal and turned these down and went for terroritory and possibility of try. 7 points would have obviously given them some momentum and settled some nervous allowing the Scottish to regain their rhythm. However I think they underestimated the Italian defence, again. This terroritory attacking didn’t really work and when you consider it only takes 1 minute to kick for goal it is in terms of time to points ratio it is very cost efficient. In strategy we have something call cost of a move. A cheap move is the shortest distance involving the fewest people. This is why intercept tries are so great as the usually on involve 1 or 2 people to score across easy ground. Kicking to the 22 and lineout and involves most of your team plus the ground ahead is dangerous as it is packed with defenders/obstacles. The time this all takes to kick and walk down set up and throw into your line out you could be back in your own half receiving the ball again if you had kicked as the cost of the move is 1 person and maximum 1 minute. Considering Paterson’s excellent goal kicking the week before it seems a strange decision. I think Scotland wanted to regain momentum and didn’t believe the Italians defence was very good. Once 21 points up you can afford to defend, defence in strategy is always the easiest option as it puts the effort on the attacker. In the Art of War the worse attack you can make is against castle or fortress. Forcing the opposition into a siege drains them of resource and frustrates them leading to lowering of morale.

Scotland did regain some points but eventually they tried due to the siege of the Italian half. Once this happened the Italians were able to counter attack having weathered the siege of their try line. They took their penalties unlike Scotland and scored another try.

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