The Enigma that is the Rhule.

He is built like the proverbial outhouse, with the chest of a body builder, arms of a boxer, shoulders of a weightlifter, and the legs of an athlete. He is quick too, a very elusive runner with real pace. He is light on his feet, he can run both straight and strong, yet he can sidestep and dance too.

And he is brave, have no doubt of his bravery!

He is prepared to put his body on the line. We have seen him run into some of the biggest, burliest man-mountains that inhabit the wing positions and play on the flanks of the scrums in New Zealand or Australia. We have seen him take on the fearsome power of a runner like Liam Squire head on. We have seen him try and stop Brodie Retallick.

He is brave, fearless, and has all the physical attributes that he could possibly want.

It is just that he is totally useless in the tackle. He is not even a nuisance, he is just not there!

I am talking about Raymond Rhule.

We know that he simply cannot tackle. Everyone knows that.

In 2017, while playing for the Cheetahs and the Springboks, he topped the stats table for missing tackles in Super Rugby and in the subsequent Rugby Championships.

He missed 38 tackles.

That is not a bad figure in itself, Pieter-Steph du Toit also missed 38 tackles.

The difference lies in the actual number of tackles he actually made. Raymond made just 70 tackles in all. Pieter-Steph made 150 tackles! A full 30 of Pieter-Steph’s tackles were rated as “dominant” and resulted in tackle turnovers. Not a single one of Raymond’s tackles was rated as dominant!  One has a tackle success ratio of 81%, the other has a success rate of just 65%. One is a lock and sometimes flanker tackling around the fringes and often at odd body angles, the other is a winger where the tackles are far more conventional, either straight on or back-tackles.

Pieter-Steph du Toit’s tackle success ratio puts him right up amongst the best, matching the likes of Siya Kolisi, Michael Hooper, Sam Cane, Liam Messum, and Eben Etsebeth.

Raymond does not walk in that company. His tackles are rated amongst the powder-puff variety.

It is not that he does not try, as I have said, he is not scared.

It just that he misses.

So far, in 2018, he has missed 13 tackles in 4 games, and he has made 22 successful tackles. He’s missing a massive 38 per cent of his attempts to tackle this season. Once again, he tops the Super Rugby Stats Table for missed tackles.

(He was so much better in 2917, he only missed 35% of his tackle attempts!)

Which begs the question:  Why did the Stormers sign him up for 2018?

Surely they knew about his defensive problems? Surely they knew that he simply cannot tackle?

Why are they persisting with him out on the left wing?

Why are they giving their opponents an obvious weak link to target?

I have no doubt that he can be taught to tackle, but that should happen down in club rugby, not out on the wing in a Super Rugby match!

And certainly not out on the Springbok wing!






  1. In the Six Nations Statistical report for the season ending 2015, the average ball in play time per match was 36m 50s or 46 percent. There are different stats for players actually touching the ball which are interesting to a rugby nerd like me but save to say, that a player who is on the right wing will be in touch with the ball for less than a minute and a half whilst on the left, for a fraction longer.
    It seems to me that to be fully engaged in the game, a back would want to tackle as often as possible or else be out of the game. So why play?

    Attacking is a thrill whilst defending is a state of mind. Some clever rugby guy said that and I subscribe to it.

    The stand-up tackle or confrontation as introduced largely by Pieter Muller in the 1980s is of no interest to me. It prevents the ball from being passed is the philosophy but it demands skill, physical strength, courage and offers more chance of head-to-head contact. The angled tackle takes skill and timing and is of more benefit as it puts the ball on the floor. It also takes courage, but if the technique is learned and practised, it is satisfying and very effective.

    I do not know if Rhule is courageous – he looks and acts like a wimp imho. I call him a turnstile and am ashamed to see him wear the Bok jersey.