A transition moment can last a few seconds - like the timing of a pass or the flight of a ball to touch, or they can be in a set play such as a scrum or a lineout, lasting over a more prolonged period.
At these moments in a game, the ball is moving, but its ultimate destination may vary from its anticipated destination - in other words, there are risks attached to transition moments. A pass may be intercepted, a ball may not bounce before it reaches touch or a scrum or lineout may be taken by the opposition. But without the inherent risk in transition moments, there would be no game. There would be no excitment.
The "up and under" or the "bomb" in rugby league, or in Irish rugby the "Garryowen" (named after the famous club from Limerick who used it to great effect) is another example of a "transition moment" in rugby.
The "up and under" is a very high kick, played by a team intent on putting thier opponents under pressure from a fast falling, high ball. The pressure comes as they attempt to make a catch with attackers advancing on them at speed. It's often used to relieve pressure when a team has been defending for lengthy periods - in other words it is both an attacking option and a breakout or breakthrough option.
When a ball is hoisted high into the air, its interesting to watch the kicking players next move - free from ball carrying, the player charges forward, unimpeded as the ball is in flight. His goal, to catch the ball again and press on, or make a thumping tackle on the catcher before he can get a pass or kick away. One thing to notice about this transitional moment is the difference in the forward progress of a player without the ball - whilst the ball is in the air and the kicker is on the move, no player can touch him or tackle him. This is in stark contrast to making progress with the ball, when the player would be fair game to any opposition tackler.
Reflecting after watching a recent game in which this play was executed to great effect, I concluded there are some useful insights we can capture from the "up and under" for sport, life, service and business:
- you have to let go sometimes in order to gain ground
- when you release something you have to start to move in the direction of whats anticipated next
- when we send what we've been carrying upwards we can move forward unimpeded
But rememering that there are risks to all transition moments, to use the play to maximum effect requires:
- an awareness of your position on the field of play in realtion to your team mates and the opposition
- an understanding that relieving pressure has purpose - the creation of a breakthrough moment
- an appreciation of the need to be prepared to adjust quickly if the outcome isn't what you had originally intended or anticipated and
- the moment the ball comes back to ground, you may be called on to catch what you have released or to make the tackle that gets it back
Remember what goes up must come down and so standing still is not an option. If we launch an up and under, we must be prepared to move, recognising that we have to take risks sometimes to create transition moments and that those transition moments can lead to breakthroughs...