Play Like Japan! image
Posted on November 14th 2019 by Richard Hicks

Play Like Japan!

One of the most exciting teams to watch at the World Cup was without a doubt Japan. Their ability to use the core skills of run, pass, tackle and support at high speed was astounding.

In the video below Harlequins go right back to basics working on specific elements of a good pass:

  • Early catch
  • Hands to target
  • Outside hand reaching for tartget
  • Outside foot ahead
  • Hips straight
  • Hips open to to target on pass
  • Hands point at target as ball is pushed through
  • Follow through square to defender
Video: Improve Your Passing

Now the real challenge is to do all this whilst running as fast as you can with pressure coming onto you through hard pressing defences.

Video: Quick Fire Passing Grid

Here we are trying to simulate some of the pressure in a game, where it is essential for the ball carrier to perform and execute their skills under the greatest pressure.

Japan’s ability to perceive space and attack it left many teams clutching at mid-air, their pass and catch skills running flat out were of the highest standard. Japan were able to attack short-sides, blindsides with numbers at pace. This is nothing flashy, just the basics done well.

Their ability to quickly respond and attack small channels of space was a hallmark of Japan’s play.

Japan had the following rankings in the performance data:

  • 8th with 118 points scored from 5 games or just under 20 points per game
  • Did not rank in top 10 for tries Scored
  • Gave away 11 penalties in 5 games or just 2.5 on average – impressive
  • 6th in Rank for carries over the gain line with 240 carries
  • 9th with 49 clean breaks
  • Did not place in top 10 of any lineout stats
  • Ranked 6th with 2422m made with the ball
  • Ranked 9th with 36 offloads – average of 7 per game
  • Ranked 5th with 688 tackles made
  • Didn’t rank in the top 10 for Turnovers

Japan had terrific go forwards, support and continuity whilst applying pressure throughout the defensive lines. Principles of Play were adhered to throughout their style of play.

Video: John Neal on Teams

To play like Japan you need to be highly skilled and confident in your own skill set and alsohave a shared coherence of how to play the game as a collective. This shared mindset was evident in how England played against New Zealand but failed to demonstrate in the Final, when it was needed more than ever.