Rugby should appeal to strategists and tacticians because sportsmen put the ideas of the greats — the Clausewitzes, Sun Tzus, and Corbetts — to work right there on the pitch. Sure, that's true of football as well. But in that case it comes in ten-second-odd, regimented, highly scripted increments. Rugby action seldom stops. A score, a penalty, dismemberment of a player — that's about it. Otherwise the match hurtles along at helter-skelter speed. Five concepts from strategic theory that manifest themselves on rugby fields:
1. Offense, defense: Clausewitz portrays defense as the stronger form of warfare, offense the more decisive. So too in sport. How the side on the defense can engineer a transition to the offense, and how the side on the offense may suffer a battlefield reverse, is a recurring question for strategists. In rugby, offense/defense transitions seemingly take place every second of game play. A match is like mercury, reversing flow erratically. Must be fun to be a cameraman trying to track the action for TV viewers.