Evolving Attacking Trends in Global Rugby: 2024 Insights - The Rugby Observer

Evolving Attacking Trends in Global Rugby: 2024 Insights

A few popular attacking rugby trends are steering away from the classics and catching our eye. Some of the performances teams have put in this season have been incredible. Is it because of the new attacking trends? Let’s find out.

Swing Shape and Numerical Overload

One of the most exciting and interesting changes has been a change to a swing attacking shape as we move closer to the Rugby World Cup. Will this be the dominating trend for the Cup? We think so.

In general, many teams played with a one-three-three-one formation that spread their forwards across the field in specific areas, creating an equally balanced attack on both sides of the ruck. But, now a new trend is developing where teams attempt to overload numerically on one side of the pitch, also known as swing shape. If you watch some videos on YouTube, you can see it works well.




Teams no longer wait to see which side presents an opportunity. They’re now sending players to the openside based on the assumption that defenders will stay in their zones. Its purpose is to overload one side and create a scoring opportunity.

This approach has been tested by the likes of the Australian National rugby league, along with South Africa, and Argentina. History tells us that these nations certainly know what they’re doing.


The All Blacks’ Unique Approach

All Blacks have chosen not to follow the popular swing-shape strategy used by most teams. The New Zealand attack remains two-sided without overcomplicating things. They are strong because they keep it simple and execute well. Through close support and fast ball circulation, they maintain attention from defenders by making clear-cut passes rather than depending on slow and risky ones that lead to creating space.

Their straightforward yet effective approach became apparent when they dominated Australia in the Bledisloe Cup with a massive impact from short-side attacks.

And, the All Blacks have introduced more contestable kicks into their play, aiming to build aerial pressure besides capitalising on turnovers. In contrast to Europe’s traditional style of kicking from the base of the long ruck, New Zealand frequently kick from fly-half or full-back, injecting an element of unexpectedness into their play.

South Africa’s Evolving Game Plan

South Africa, known for its mammoth power game, unveils its new attacking strategy in 2024. The Springboks – previously reliant on physical dominance and structured play – are now exploring broader tactics. Their tactic transformation is arguably one of the best, where they always attempt to play a more dynamic open game using back-three skills.

While remaining central, these changes represent a diversification attempt by South Africa towards attack variation other than having only one offensive option. This goal should make them a better all-round team that can adapt to different opponents and game situations.

Structured Play and Tactical Brilliance

Scotland and France have also showcased impressive attacking trends, particularly in their structured play. Both teams have very well-skilled attack coaches who plan meticulously to take advantage of the defensive frailties of their opponents. Gregor Townsend’s Scotland has emphasised creative ball movement, allowing players like Finn Russell and Blair Kinghorn to thrive.

Laurent Labit is the attack coach of France, who relies on strategic positioning and precision to penetrate opposing defences. Their adaptability and their execution of set plays have made them a significant force – though they still have some consistency issues due to patterns in their play structure against rapid game changes.

What do you think about the attacking trends in 2024, and which is your favourite? We’re noticing how teams rely on good old tactics and invent new ones to keep the competitive edge. And with how teams have been performing so far in 2024, we’d say some definitely have more of a competitive edge over others.

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