The offload, once seen as the preserve of the free-flowing Fijians, is now practised by almost every team at the Rugby World Cup.
From Timothy Lafaele’s one-handed backpass in the run-up to Kotaro Matsushima’s first try in the opening match, to Federico Ruzza’s perfectly timed and perfectly executed offload to Tito Tebaldi for Italy against Namibia, players in all positions now have the skills to slip passes out of the tackle that don’t just take the breath away, but remove a couple of defenders to boot.
In rugby, the attack wants to recycle the ball quickly after a tackle. Time to re-organise benefits the defence. The quicker they can recycle the ball, the shorter the time the defence has to place their players in the best positions.
One way to do this is to have lots of attackers around the ball to clear out nearby defenders and make the ball available to the scrum-half, but that still gives the defence time to get organised.
A better way of recycling the ball quickly is to never let an attacker get tackled with the ball in the first place. The way you do that is via the offload.
Traditionally the Fijians are the ones terrorising their opponents by combining their pace with a volley of offloads, but today the Uruguayans beat the Pacific Islanders at their own game. Two of Los Teros’s three tries came from offloads: one from the floor and the other the more usual offload in a tackle.
For the first Uruguayan try, above, there is an offload off the floor. We know that turnovers create attacking opportunities because they present broken field for the attack.
When the Fijian attack breaks down and the ball goes to ground, hooker German Kessler is first to it. Because the Fijians spill the ball in the middle of the pitch, there is a huge gap left as the attacking players prepare to continue upfield.
If Kessler had set up a ruck here that gap would soon have been closed because the defenders would have reorganised, but the hooker flips the ball back to Santiago Arata, who sees the space and charges into it. The finish is spectacular but the initial space is exploited because of the quick offload off the ground by Kessler.
Uruguay’s third score – the try of the game for Juan Manuel Cat – shows the value of passing before the tackle and the value of the offload in the tackle.
Gaston Mieres passes just before contact, which opens up a two-on-one for Cat and Rodrigo Silva. When Silva gets the ball he has to draw the attention of two defenders.
Fly-half Felipe Berchesi helps by running a wide line to bring Fijian full-back Alivereti Veitokani out to the wing and away from contact with Silva.
Silva takes the ball into contact with Filipo Nakosi but crucially keeps his arms free in the tackle and offloads to the onrushing Cat.
Cat has followed play and is so close to Silva that the offload is simple. You can also see, when the video slows down, that he is constantly talking to Silva to tell him where he is.
We knew Fiji would offload, and they did. The two teams offloaded 29 times between them, and 22 of those offloads were by Fiji. It will be the two Uruguayan offloads that led to two tries and secured a stunning three-point win, though, that will be remembered for many years to come.
-Story derived from https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/news/482894