A key to success in many sports stems from the ability to anticipate what a player is going to do next. In sporting duels such as a 1 vs. 1 in rugby, the attacker can try and beat the defender by using deceptive movement. Those strategies involve an evolution of the centre of mass (COM) in the medio-lateral plane, from a minimal state to maximal displacement just before the final reorientation. The aim of this work is to consider this displacement as a motion-gap, as outlined in Tau theory, as a potential variable that may specify deceptive movement and as a means of comparing anticipatory performance between mid-level players and novices in rugby. Using a virtual reality set-up, 8 mid-level rugby players (ML) and 8 novices (NOV) observed deceptive (DM) and non-deceptive movements (NDM). The global framework used an occlusion time paradigm with four occlusion times. Participants had to judge the final direction of the attacker after the different cuts-off. For each movement and at each occlusion time, we coupled the ability to predict the good final direction with the value of the COM displacement in the medio-lateral (COM M/L) plane or with the Tau of this parameter (Tau COM). Firstly, results show that the Tau COM is a more predictive optical variable than the simple COM M/L. Secondly, this optical variable Tau COM is used by both groups, and finally, with a specific methodology we showed that mid-level players have significantly better anticipatory ability than the novice group.