Why do the Crusaders win?
After making a comment in the final match thread about the Crusaders way of approaching the comp I thought about it a bit and it might deserve further discussion.
While it is all very well stating the obvious things about talent in players and coaches and finals experience, those things are often self perpetuating and simply support the overall setup and plan.
I believe that the Crusaders ‘dynasty’ continues because they go into each season with a plan different to the teams trying to overcome them.
While others seem to also recruit, get good coaches, plan a style, cover for injuries etc etc they also seem to take each game as it comes and try their best as a series of single games.
The Crusaders however run the season with unfailing confidence that they will be there at the pointy end. Winning streaks don’t matter nor do pool game rivalries (except when used for confidence boosters). They simply know that with their underlying strengths they will be around for the couple of games that matter and everything leading up to those games is ‘training’.
They went into the weekend’s final knowing that they had been analysing and coming up with plans for a number of weeks once the likely opposition had been whittled down. I would say they had plans sketched up for Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs and Canes and had been fine tuning and discarding them as necessary.
None of this ‘we are glad to be here and will do our best’ stuff. Every player and their understudy would have had their lines written for them and their skills fine-tuned from weeks out.
They slowly built into their defensive structures, only going full tilt at the semi then added another dimension for the final.
It’s a full season strategy with tactics that build to an end point. There’s no risk of running out of steam or being surprised and can be built on year by year as other teams keep trying to find new players, gel new teams, work on last seasons exploited weakness etc.
It would be really interesting to see if and how this would translate to the very different world of test rugby.