FOR someone like me who watches boxing occasionally, I do it for the attacking boxers. It’s not that I don’t appreciate great defensive boxers and counter-punchers like Floyd Mayweather, but Mohammed Ali was always the main attraction for me.
Ali was all-court. He could attack, defend, and do the smoke and mirrors stuff, but when he was in his prime it was all about his skill and ambition, and especially his desire to have a go in attack.
In many ways Rugby Union is the same, because what has attracted most people to it is great attacking play. Kids in my era wanted to be David Campese, John Kirwan, Jonah Lomu, Rory Underwood or Chester Williams, running quickly, changing direction and gear, and scoring spectacular tries.
When we saw Jonny May score what has been called ‘a wonder try’ against Ireland at Twickenham last weekend it was a reminder of the joy in seeing great attacking rugby.
One reason it was a wonder try is because it could have gone wrong umpteen times – mainly when he kicked first off his wrong foot, and then, after his speed saw him get to the ball first to toe it on, when it bounced up perfectly for him to score.
It was a different sort of end-to-end wonder try to the one scored by Philippe Saint Andre when England beat France in the 1991 Grand Slam show down. because where May’s was almost a solo try, the French winger’s touchdown was part of a flowing attack from their in-goal with many more passes.
One of the reasons May’s try stood out so much is because the strength of defences, and their ability to get the upper hand, has started to lead to a lack of overall attacking ambition.
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