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Why we made our best takes / catches countdown
Taking a high-ball is one of the most difficult skills that rugby players need to possess. But the poor guy who has to go up and catch a kick rarely gets the man-of-the match award for it. That honor usually goes to the players who score the points or make the biggest hits. But the players who go up for the ball are the ones who really put themselves in danger. As you’ll see in a few of these clips, just because you leave the ground in one piece that doesn’t mean you’re coming down the same way. So this countdown of the best takes and catches of the rugby world cup is for all those players who made a great take and nobody thanked them after the game.
#1 Who is the catcher?
Fullbacks, wingers and scrum halves are usually the guys who make the best takes in a game of rugby. That makes sense since its part of their job description. But every now and then, you’ll see a lock or a flanker flying through the air to rip a ball off someone. It’s rare, but it does happen and when it does we give those guys some extra credit. This goes for the like of Sean McMahon #55 and Duane Vermeulen #46 for example. We should probably take this opportunity to apologize to all the front-rowers out there since not a single one of them made it onto the list of the 92 best takes or catches of the world cup. C’mon guys, you couldn’t get up there once? Nevermind, we have something coming for you tomorrow that will make up for it.
#2 How much pressure do they have on them?
Some guys in these clips are making their catch without much pressure on them. Others are getting either hit in the air like poor Vasil Lobzhanidze #14 or smashed as they land a la Bryan Habana #8. So when weighing one of the best takes against another, we had to think about how much the catcher was being pressured. Was there someone else competing for the ball in the air? Were there other players around? Heck in the case of Will Genia #35, did he have to push his own players out of the way to get to the ball? All of these factors go towards the overall ‘pressure’ criterion.
#3 Did they kick, chase and catch the ball?
A take is a take is take, except when its not just a take. If a catch is being made, it means that someone must have kicked the ball. In instances where the same player catches, chases and catches the ball, we’ve given them extra credit. The first person who can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with the highest-ranking solo effort like this gets a special prize. HINT: it’s not really a fair question, but you have to watch the video to work it out.
#4 What’s their amplitude?
At the risk of sounding like we’re judging a snowboard half-pipe competition, we decided to take amplitude into account in our rankings. If one player has an insane vertical jump that nobody else could have pulled off, they get more credit from us. Telusa Veainu #3 is one example of this, Ryan Wilson #15 is another. These guys had amazing height on their jumps and catches. Extra points? You bet! Amplitude might not be everything, but its one of the criteria we used in determining our best take and catches.
#5 Chest or hands?
One area in which rugby 7s players seem to be much better than their 15s counterparts is when it comes to taking a high-ball. That’s probably why they use their hands more when catching, AFL-style. the second to last criteria we used when evaluating the best takes and catches of the #RWC2015 was to ask, did they use their hands or their chest to catch the ball? The best example of this is Scott Spedding #7 – even under extreme pressure from the All Blacks, he goes up and makes a great take without using his chest at all. In fact he probably wouldn’t have been able to make the catch with his chest, using his hands was the only option. Good effort Scotty!
#6 After they land
There are a couple of catches on this list that at first don’t make much sense. There’s very little pressure on the catcher, they didn’t kick the ball and chase it and they didn’t even make a jump to take the ball. Yet they’re still on the list? Hell yes! Harry Jones #68 for example takes a catch in his own 22 and then runs the ball out to over half-way untouched. Spectacular effort! Nehe Milner-Skudder #54 is another good example, even though this was technically a lineout.
What’s next after the best takes / catches?
If none of these videos are displaying correctly, checkout our Facebook page, which has all the same content. Next up is one of the forwards, the best scrums and the best lineouts of the rugby world cup. That’ll be a ripper!