It is extremely easy in this time of global pandemic to focus on the many negatives affecting the entire rugby family globally.
I set out below the key issues and risks that are currently affecting players, coaches and rugby clubs (and likely to affect in the near future) as well as a list of solutions and recommended approaches to these issues and risks.
COVID-19 AFTER EFFECTS
• Players may lose interest in playing rugby.
• Schools will cancel fixtures.
• Core technique at training suffers.
• Less technically competent players join rugby clubs.
• New enthusiastic coaches are lost to the game.
• Overall playing standard deteriorates.
• The rugby product is seen as boring.
LAW MAKERS AND LAWS OF THE GAME
• The emerging threat of concussion and mounting legal action is threatening future of the game.
• Law makers will be looking at the on-field product because ratings matter to sponsors.
• Improving the product is more about attitude than law changes (all those in favour say aye!).
• The Kiwi competition prior to COVID-19 had some outstanding clashes, which demonstrates that the game can be exciting whilst complying with the laws of the game.
WHAT WE ARE WATCHING IS VERY AVERAGE
• Big men running into each other.
• Lack of variety in attack.
• No courage to run and support.
• Tedious on field /on TV, high level strategies (e.g. manipulation of the ball by the half back at the ruck and the subsequent box kick. This infection has now spread to the fly-half who now prefers the spiral bomb to running the ball).
• The home of creativity, Australia, can’t get the basics right, let alone be creative.
THE ANSWER MAINLY LIES WITH THE INDIVIDUAL PLAYER.
• Arsene Wenger’s book, “My Life in Red and White”, page 62 offers a framework (great read).
• In summary, produce players with an instinct to demonstrate their skill.
• How? Through greater TEAM MOBILITY TRAINING on club coaching nights.
Ask the question…Are my players all running at any one time in support or to re-claim the ball? Do they have the instinct and can they do it again and again?
• How much of this do we do in our sessions on club night through game scenario coaching?
• If you want to give them a rest, demonstrate a technique until they stop gasping. Then go again.
• Players turn up at training wanting to run around, not listen to monologues.
• The talented players will set the tempo, the rest will strive to stay with them. Your support will be vital.
• BORING PRACTICES PRODUCE LACKLUSTRE PERFORMANCES.
• Would banning the side in possession of the ball from kicking it between their 22 and the halfway line improve the game?
• Would limiting the number of punts from hand each 40-minute half improve the game, say 5 punts only per team?
• There are many more…
RUGBY CLUB SURVIVAL
• Many clubs will find it hard to recover from COVID-19.
• Those with the courage to change the training field program will win the players!
• Forget about results. The buzz must come from training and playing.
• Saturday will take care of itself.
• If you said to me, where have you seen the best say, 10 – 20 years old coaching sessions in the last 10 years, I would say Italy. They have really got their act together at junior level and U20 international, across all clubs.
• Your future will be determined by your attitude to the product.
• You will be in demand if you can create, “The buzz in players for training and playing”
• Players win you games.
• TEAM MOBILTY DETERMINES BY HOW MUCH.
Check out Mike’s other articles here.