While the clock ticks away and I wait for the moment that I get my paycheck and can leave for the airport (and pray that my flight from ATL to PHL is on time and without incident), I've been trolling the internet for ideas that will inform the transformation of our garage to home gym. And I stumbled upon some Crossfit stuff along the way.
I know there are some big time Cross-Fit fans out there, so I encourage you to speak your peace. But I have to wonder just a little bit about some of the training philosophy.
In this article, written by the founder of Crossfit, the author states that 'those most inclined to worry and ask about “overtraining” are about as likely to set a new record in the Olympic Decathlon as they are to ever overtrain' . He also states that 'If we clump the recuperative modalities together as “pampering” what my clinical practice suggests is that the pampered athletes are generally performing below the 50-percentile mark. Those most inclined, for instance, to yoga, meditation, and chiropractic treatment are not our fire-breathers.'
So recuperative modalities, among them listed as stress control, massage, sleep, contrast hydrotherapy, hydration, recreation, stretching, and chiropractic treatment, qualify under the Crossfit model, as pampering.
While I agree wholeheartedly that mental toughness is developed under intensely anearobic activities, the leap to treat recuperative techniques as 'pampering' is a little out there. It's so easy for us as coaches to leap right into the blame game, and shout out that the unsuccessful player of the unsuccessful team simply 1) wasn't trying hard enough 2) didn't want it enough or 3)isn't mentally tough enough, instead of identifying specific weaknesses and creating specific plans for improvement.
A friend of mine who coaches at a very high level tells me that she almost always needs to reduce the amount of time and the number of repetitions that players do in training, in order to improve quality and get tangible results. The cross fit philosophy seems in contrast to this ...
At its core, the methods that drive Crossfit are stated as being "empirical". It's an interesting choice of words, with definitions that are someone in conflict...
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, esp. as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.
Basically, its the "it worked for me and for others, therefore it's valid" argument.
I can't even count the number of players who define a workout as "good or bad" based upon how hard they breath or how close to vomiting they get. Crossfit clearly appeals to this personlaity type. Think you're tough? Not unless you do our workout you aren't!
Quick, let me jump on board and do pullups and squats till I vomit. I'll show you tough!!!
Is this sort of training intensity good on a regular basis? Shouldn't the training be gaged by the on-field results? Will training to that level exhaustion translate to on field results?
So does Crossfit have it's basis in science or not? Does it have a place in rugby? Will it make you faster, better at tackling, or more evasive? Should we use it for general fitness or for developing mental toughness?
And to the bigger question, is harder, faster, MORE MORE MORE the answer to all our training woes? Are recuperative methods "pampering", and if so, does it matter?
If you've got personal experience you'd like to share, I'm all ears.
Friday, December 28, 2007
While the clock ticks away and I wait for the moment that I get my paycheck and can leave for the airport (and pray that my flight from ATL to PHL is on time and without incident), I've been trolling the internet for ideas that will inform the transformation of our garage to home gym. And I stumbled upon some Crossfit stuff along the way.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I found an article on KR's blog about reporting to boards, giving speeches, etc. He in turn is quoting from a gentleman named Peter Guber, who's a movie producer, who essentially deals with "stories". The article speaks of four truths when storytelling, making speeches, delivering reports, etc.
For me personally in my coaching career, the concept of "truth" is way more complicated than I'd like it to be. There's always got be be a balance. We've got to edit ourselves, choose our words wisely, tailor what we say to the individuals we work with, and find a way to always go forward, whether the truth is something positive or negative.
You know what I mean - maybe you're working with a player who just can't catch to save her life. Tell her that and you've lost her forever. Maybe your have a player who stands out head and shoulders above the rest - communicate that truth too often, and before long you're playing favorites.
Add the that the fact that all of our individual "truths" are colored by our past experiences, perspective, and supporting info. What might be
"true" to me could be completely untrue to someone else. It's a delicate balancing act that I will likely struggle with forever.
For those of us who choose to coach, "truth" is something that we dole out, when and where it's appropriate, in a delivery mechanism that we hope will work for the widest group of players. I found the four basic points below to be really insightful ideas about how truth applies to communications.
# Truth to the teller. Yes, authenticity again. Show and share who you are with an open heart.
# Truth to the audience. It’s Value for Time. They give you their time on the understanding that you will give them emotional value and personal insight.
# Truth to the moment. Be prepared and then – improvise. The preparation will ensure you don’t lose focus. The improvisation will make sure you don’t lose your audience!
# Truth to the mission. Don’t even try to inspire people to do something you don’t believe in yourself. They won’t believe in it either.
Spoke with Julie McCoy, the women's 7s coach yesterday, and she asked me to pass this on, as well as some information regarding the USA 7s tournament. There are two big parts, i'll summarize.
USA RUGBY and the IRB need to SEE that women not only participate, but support their own programs in order for the women's final to be played in Petco park.
There are two ways to do this:
1) If you are going to USA 7's for any reasons, to watch anyone - buy your tickets from Kim Brock at USA Rugby.
2) If you want to play 7s, Kim Brock will help arrange for you to find an opponent and you can play on the 7th/8th ... FOR FREE! That's right FREE!! And then get your spectator tickets to USA 7s through Kim for the big event Saturday.
If we can show enough interest in the women's game, the women's International Final can again be played in Petco Park. That's cool. Let's try and make it happen.
The official words:
As many people already know, the San Diego 7s event in rapidly approaching. It is the largest International rugby event hosted in North America and a stop on the iRB’s 7s World Series. This event will take place on February 9-10 at PetCo Park, home of the Padres, in Downtown San Diego. This event features 16 of the Worlds best 7s teams including New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and your USA Eagles!
What you may not know is that on Thursday and Friday the 7-8th there is another event running in conjunction with the San Diego 7s known as the San Diego Invitational. There will be nearly 50 rugby teams in town ranging from youth, high school, collegiate and Masters (AKA old boys). Also, as a part of the San Diego Invitational, there is an International Women’s 7s event featuring teams from Samoa, South Africa, Canada and most importantly, the United States Women’s National team!
Last year the women’s final between the US & Canada was played at PetCo Park in front of 15, 000 spectators who were there to watch the men’s event and we are really hoping for this to happen again. This is a tremendous opportunity for women’s rugby, not only here in the states, but internationally as well. In order to make this happen, USA 7s is asking us to show that the women’s rugby community supports their National Team.
How do we do this?
The San Diego Invitational has all age levels, but for the most part, only male participants. Women’s senior and collegiate teams have not shown interest in participating. I am not sure if this is due to lack of knowledge or interest in the event.
If we, the women’s community, can band together and show that we are participating in the San Diego Invitational and purchasing tickets to the USA 7s event (at a discounted group rate) it will help the USA 7s make the decision to have the women’s final inside the stadium once again.
How does the San Diego Invitational work/how does my team get games?
On Thursday and Friday we have 8 fields available all day long. Your team can challenge another team from a different territory or you can submit your interest to Kim Brock and she will work on matching you up to another team who has shown interest. We can work out a round robin format, short halves, full matches or whatever you want your matches to be in order to get you to the event.
There is NO ENTRY FEE to play in this event!!! PLEASE FEEL FREE TO PASS THIS MESSAGE ALONG TO ANY AND ALL TEAMS WHO MAY BE INTERESTED.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi, USA Rugby's CEO, is a blogger! Posts span a variety of topics, but there are gem's of rugby everywhere ...
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Haven't seen this out to the public so I thought I'd pass it on ...
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Unless you've been in a vacuum, you've heard that the D1 women's club championships this weekend will be available LIVE via Webcast .... as a result the schedule has changed - please get everyone you know clicking through! The more people who watch, the more likely it is that they'll do it again.
All you have to go is go to USARugby.org tomorrow morning, all times are EST....
10:00 Philadelphia v ORSU
11:45 Keystone v Atlanta
1:30 Amazons v Berkely
3:15 NY v Beantown
Monday, November 05, 2007
Normally I like to keep clubs stuff and this blog separate, but this video clip from last week's Club Playoff match-up between Chicago North Shore and Philadelphia represents a whole lot of work paying off.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
So I haven't blogged in a while, mainly because "in season" i want to be cautious to keep my generic online coaching blog separate and distinct from my week by week and player by player real world coaching experiences.
As those of us in the women's club world wind up our regular seasons and our territorial championship, the focus shifts a bit . For those of us who are traveling to the USA Rugby Women's DI Club Playoffs in Austin next weekend (aka Sweet 16s or Nationals, and yes, i know its an NCAA copyrighted term), we start to think about the "big games".
We should all be at a point in our season where we are starting to peak - when everyone's really clicking but there are still some things to work on. We should know by now what we're good at and what we aren't and maybe we are thinking about our opponenents and what they are and aren't so good at.
So I've got a question for the general audience and I'm sure there are more than a few opinions.
Do you prepare any differently for the "big game" than you would for any other game, or do you treat every game as the "big game", or do you treat the "big game" as if its just another weekend match?
Specifically - how much new stuff might you introduce? Do you still work on basic skills, or is the focus on decision making, or perhaps team pattern play? How about contact - is it balls out in order to get the best preparation, or do you take precautions in order to keep everyone healthy? How many of you play a match the weekend before nationals, and how many take it off? Which do you think is better?
We are running two full sides most every weekend, so for us our match at home on Saturday is a "big game" too - since there is a roster limit at nationals we've got some players playing their final game of the season on Saturday. So to add to the complexity, there are two tasks 1) get the developmental team ready to rock out anyone they play completely, finish that season with a big feel good, and 2) get the higher level players as tuned up as they can be for our trip to Austin (and a big feel good). It's a huge challenge.
It's been a while since we've all dialogged so lets have some comments!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Congratulations to all!
September 19, 2007
USA Rugby Releases Women’s Collegiate All-American Selections for 2006-2007
BOULDER, Colo. -- USA Rugby is pleased to announce the Women's Collegiate All-Americans for the 2006-2007 academic year. In this thirteenth year for the Women’s All-American program, players were selected based on their performance from the entire collegiate season. Many of the athletes have repeated as All-Americans, and others demonstrated their abilities with their respective territory's Under-23 team.
Out of nearly 10,000 women playing college rugby in 2006-2007, 32 First Team and 35 Second Team All-Americans were selected by a committee, with players representing 38 individual colleges. Those chosen will receive a letter and a certificate from USA Rugby and their respective school's club sports director will also receive a letter and certificate of recognition.
"The growth in collegiate rugby, its competitiveness and excellent quality of play continue to amaze us, thus making the committee’s decision process long and difficult,” said Women’s Collegiate All-American Committee Chair Alan Osur.
The committee consisting of Osur, Darlene Connors, Steve Murra, Nancy Kechner and Ellen Owens, represents a cross-section of rugby coaches and administrators. They received input from other coaches and administrators from across the nation and spent many weeks analyzing player performances.
The Women's All-American program was started by the Collegiate Committee in 1995 and has grown over the years as the number and quality of the players and teams have improved. Back in 1995, there were 167 collegiate teams, while this year more than 300 collegiate teams are in competition. Between 1995 and 1998, the committee named only first team All-American selections, but since 1999 both first and second team players have been selected.
The Women’s Collegiate All-Americans for the 2006-2007 academic year are as follows:
Northeast - Kirsten Ahrendt (Dartmouth); Emilie Bydwell (Brown); Danielle Goodman-Levy (Vassar); Jennifer Hustwitt (Brown); Tess Kohanski (Syracuse);Dianna Le (Army).
MARFU - Katy Black (West Chester); Kate Daley (Penn State); Elizabeth Inkellis (Princeton); Diana Klein (Penn State); Sarah Miller (James Madison); Carrie Perdue (Virginia); Alison Worman (Penn State).
South - Becky Urion (Florida).
Midwest - Sylvia Braaten (Marquette); Kassie Drey (Northern Iowa); Kristy Lear (Minnesota); Tiffany McCoy (Northern Iowa); Sarah Wilson (Ohio State).
West - Rebecca Barron (Texas A&M); Sydney Forestal (New Mexico); Jillion Potter (New Mexico); Gina Steffano (Texas A&M).
Pacific Coast - Olivia Anglade (Stanford); Katie Chou (California); Kelly Nielson (Chico State); Elaine Schlarb (Oregon State); Cameron Stewart (Davis); Jacelyn Tseng (Stanford).
Southern California - Phoebe Boone (Santa Barbara); Kelly Griffin (UCLA); Alexis Volen (San Diego).
Northeast - Ida Bernstein (Syracuse); Emily Dupre (Northeastern); Aimee Gough (Radcliffe).
MARFU - Stephanie Burkhardt (West Chester); Allurie Kephart (Penn State); Lauren Rosso (Penn State); Alison Searle (Penn State); Emily Shiflett (Virginia); Siobhan Tiernan (Virginia).
South - Allison Fischman (Florida); Khadijah Glast (Clemson); Victoria Prader (Florida).
Midwest - Schmarrah McCarthy (Purdue); Kathryn McCormick (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee); Amanda Rolling (Iowa State); Jessica Travers (University of Illinois).
West - Jennifer Ballinger (Colorado); Elizabeth Bryant (Texas A&M); Natalie Frank (New Mexico); Olivia Herdt (Wyoming); Rocio Ramos (New Mexico); Desbah Yazzie (Air Force).
Pacific Coast - Thania Balcorta (Davis); Megan Mendivil (Davis); Tara McBride (Chico State); Carey Myslewski (Stanford); Amara Reddick (UC-Santa Cruz); Rachel Reddick (Chico State); Alissa Sambucetti (California); Melissa Smit (Stanford); Megan Thompson (Western Washington); Caroline White (Chico State); Chelsea Willes (Brigham Young).
Southern California - Rosie Krauter (Santa Barbara); Kara Mathews (Santa Barbara).
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Congrats to all who attended ... I was particularly intersted to see how many of these matches were one or two try affairs. It looks like a great season is ahead of us!
Visit the PWRFC Pumpkinfest results for all the details:
Philly wins pool A 12-7 vs Atlanta, 12-7 vs Raliegh
Beantown wins pool B 58-0 over Maryland, 19-5 over Nova
Boston wins pool c 12-7 over Keystone, 17-12 over Washington
Atlanta advances to the semi's as a wild card by virtue of a 40-5 win over Raleigh
Beantown (1) vs Atlanta (4) , Beantown 27-0
Boston (2) vs Philly (3), Philly 15-5
Beantown v Philly, Beantown wins 22-3
In the social division, Back in Black, Beantown B, Nova B, and Washington B all advance.
Back in Black vs Beantown B 44-0
Nova B over Washington B 8-5
Back in Black vs Nova B, Back in Black 22-0
Friday, August 31, 2007
Photos from the most recent (August) USA Women's National Team 7's footwork camp are online, courtesy of Michelle Posey, sports photographer.
Look for open registration footwork camps in Little Rock this winter, for both men and women ...
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The fall ramp up has officially begun, and, like every other coach on the planet, I think about potential. It's a word that coaches use often when speaking of players - "gee, she's got so much potential!"
Since "potential" is a scientific term as well, I've been thinking about what it means. Presented for your amusement are my conclusions (be kind, I've been spending a lot of time in the dentists chair recently and not a lot sleeping).
We coaches really have very little idea how much potential an individual player has - not unless we know what they want,what they are willing to do to get it, and at least a little about their background and what makes them tick. Sure, we can look at, for example, a kick ass shot putter, and proclaim "DAMN she'd make a fine prop! So much potential!"
What we mean, of course, is that this individual exhibits certain attributes that mirror certain attributes of a rugby player. Does this individual have potential in rugby? Not unless she actually wants to apply those attributes TO rugby, and develop all the other things required to play.
So now I've used the word potential AND apply. And I sound like my Mom. Young lady, you have so much potential, if only you applied yourself! Well, my Mom wanted me to be a Dr. and I didn't. So as far as I'm concerned, I had zero potential at doctoring.
Where am I going with this? In physics (or electronics, or whatever), potential refers to theoretical stored energy. A rock on a ledge has potential energy. If and when it falls (or is pushed) off, it will have kinetic energy. Potential energy is nothing more than a prediction - because there is always an "if" associated with it. That brick with a specific set of attributes (mass for example) can never have MORE potential energy in that moment in time and space. To increase potential energy we have to add more mass, perhaps relocate to a higher location, or, if there are other items with potential energy, find a way to them to our brick.
In the theoretical frictionless environment that high school science teachers talk about, potential energy and kinetic energy express different states, but the value is the same. In the real world, this isn't the case. The wind blows and there is friction .... which despite the bricks potential energy, reduces its kinetic energy. Maybe the brick picks up some rubbish on the way down, increasing it's wind resistance. Maybe someone throws a rock at our brick, hits it on the way down, and knocks it off course. Reduced kinetic energy. Maybe, as a result of the collision, a chunk of our brick breaks off, and it no longer has the same mass. You get the picture. It's pretty easy to reduce potential, damn hard to increase it.
Bottom line is, our brick doesn't have potential tomorrow, it has potential today. Right now. Right at this instant. Tomorrow, the brick might be changed, ever so slightly, and it will have different potential. Maybe more, maybe less.
Our players have exactly as much potential on a given day as their physical and mental skills (speed, size, agility, technical prowess, mental toughness), the environment (the weather, the length of the grass, the grippyness of the ball), and their preparation (rest, nutrition, injury management, hydration, arousal level etc) will allow them to have. Not more. In addition to all of this conditional stuff, there just has to be the willingness. A massive muscular devastating player, coiled to execute a bone-crushing level iii tackle, has the POTENTIAL to destroy. The moment they choose not to tackle, the potential is gone.
I believe that there IS such a thing, on any given day, as "the best you can possibly do". We as coaches can only change that within limits - we run an optimal warm up, say a few inspiring words, and make sure there is plenty of water and plenty of oranges at half time. We must accept, at the end of the day, that players will NOT play to their maximum potential, because perfection is an unreasonable expectation, especially in a 80 minute rugby game.
Gee Lisa, that sucks. Are you seriously saying that I will never achieve my potential? HOW POSITIVELY DEPRESSING ... clearly you've spent too much time in that dentists chair. YOU SUCK.
What I'm saying is that, in order to improve a player's performance, we need to CHANGE their potential. There's lots of ways to do that - rugby practice, mental training, fitness workouts etc. We could reshape our brick and make it more aerodynamic, just like we can help develop the skills of our player - but to REALLY alter the potential of our player, we need to add something.
Rugby is a team sport - and the holy grail of any group of rugby players fall into two categories. Two on ones, and mismatches. Since a mismatch really is MY potential at exactly this second vs YOUR potential at exactly this second, lets look at two on ones.
When our players work together to create a 2 on 1 - be it offensively or defensively, they change their individual potential. This dynamic is always and forever being altered, but one thing is sure. Unless there is a gross mismatch - two players in combination will ALWAYS have more potential than one player alone.
Rugby math problem:
Average player plus awesome player vs awesome player. Who has more potential? Just like in chess, a queen AND a pawn pose a greater threat than a queen alone.
clearly I'm making a case for teamwork, but its more than that. I'm making a case for working not only to individual players potential, but to the potential of groups of players.
Wicked fast player in red goes 1 v 1 with wicked fast player in blue, blue is defending her 22ish. Wicked fast player in red is supported by average speed player in red.
Case 1. Wicked fast player in red goes wickedly fast and is tacked by wicked fast player in blue. Since average speed player in red can't keep up with the pace, wicked fast player in red turns over the ball.
Case 2. Wicked fast player in red takes just enough off her pace to allow average speed player in red to work at the limits of her potential. Blue defender (wickedly fast) tackles red player (wickedly fast) but, since the average speed player is able to support, the offload occurs an a try is scored.
At first glance, it sounds like I'm recommending that we ask the faster or bigger player to LOWER her potential to that of the average speed player. NOt at all. In this scenario, the potential of the "average speed player" has shot through the roof. At the moment in time that this average speed player puts the ball between the posts and finishes the try, we've re-defines that individual's potential. Tommorrow, that player's potentil is markedly higher because he or she has learned how to support and finish, at top speed. The wicked fast player's potential has increase - she, at that moment, became a play maker.
Alternate scenario for forwards who put everything in scrummaging perspective:
Tight head vs loose head, Red tight head is stronger. Hooker vs hooker, equal strength. Loose Head vs Tight head, blue tight head is stronger.
At first glance, the two teams, each with a dominant tight head, seem equally matched. What happens if all six players drive at maximum effort? Wheel, every single scrum. Since the loose heads are weaker, and the tight head on their own team is CONTRIBUTING to the wheel, both 1s are victims. What happens if the tight head on the red team backs off just a little bit? The loose head on the red team can stabilize, her opposite isn't as enabled to push since OUR tight head isn't making the scrum spin, and lo ... the team putting out LESS raw power, but an even application of power, will have control of the scrum.
So basically, as relates to potential, 4 things I'm thinking about pre-season - particularly when tackling the challenge of working with 50 plus players of varying skill, experience, desire, and POTENTIAL.
1. You or I, as the coach, have no idea about what a player's potential is. If she doesn't want for herself what you envision for her, the her potential is limited. She's not failing to meet it - it just isn't there to begin with. The moment an individual player says to herself - "I DO want this, and I'm willing to work at it", their potential skyrockets. When presented with a selection choice - choose the player who really wants to be there. Not the player who's convinced the team will crumble without her, or who believes she's doing the team a favor showing up.
2. On game day, we can't change anyones potential. We do what we can to optimize the environment, and the rest is in the hands of the players. On game day, our job is basically over.
3. Potential can be changed by increasing individual proficiency, but TEAMWORK, even in the smallest of units, creates increased potential and as a result creates increased performance in all players involved. If we, as coaches, work our very hardest to change the potential of our individuals, we'll change the potential of our team, and vice versa. Play players next to players who make them better players.
4. Everyones potential at any given moment in time is NOT the same. This goes not only for our team, but for the opposition. As a result of this difference in potential, mismatches occur. Learn to recognize these mismatches on the field, and the team's potential goes up. Learn to CREATE the mismatches on the field, and every player's potential goes up AND the teams potential goes up. Make smart selection choices and do not place players on the field in positional situations where they will repeatedly be the victim of a mismatch. Let the other team be victims.
Bring on the fall!
Monday, August 13, 2007
When hanging out with rugby people one day, just for fun, contemplate what sort of rugby team you might put together with actors, actresses, politicians, superheros (imagine superman at 8!) etc ...
My celebrity (actresses/musicians etc) world cup team (non-rostered reserves included)
1 - Oprah
2 - Pink
3 - Queen Latifa
4 - Charlize Theron
5 - Sigourney Weaver
6 - Hillary Swank
7 - Angelina Jolie
8 - Gina Davis (captain)
9 - Jodi Foster
10 - Helen Hunt
11 - Mariel Hemingway
12 - Demi Moore
13 - Lucy Lawless
14 - Mila Jojovich
15 - Angela Bassett (vice captain)
16 - Kathy Bates
17 - Lil' Kim
18 - Brigitte Nielsen
19 - Linda Hamilton
20 - Francis McDormand
21 - Kristanna Loken
22 - Gina Gershon
Head Coach: Glenn Glose
Assistant Coach (forwards): S. Epatha Merkerson
Assistant Coach (backs): Meryll Streep
Physio: Sandra Oh
Regina King (1/2)
Anna Nicole Smith (3) (pretend)
Uma Thurman (lock)
Tina Fey (9)
Jennifer Garner (back row)
Holly Hunter (10)
Mariska Hargitay (center)
The selection committee had a rough time making these decisions - but we're confident. I dare you to try the game. It's a guilty pleasure.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I was very fortunate over the past few days to get another chance to observe our MNT in training. One of the biggest areas where change has occurred over the past few years is at the scrum. There are more variations on scrummaging than I could possibly cover - bind high, low, high and low, crotch bind, waist bind, pocket bind, balls of feet, splayed feet, lock out, knees bent, bla bla bla.
Much time is being spent improving our scrum, and our MNT scrummaging coach recently did some training with players in Rochester. Clearly this is an area that the MNT staff has identified for improvement in the upcoming world cup.
Rather than dissect the whole thing, I thought it would be useful to post a summary that compares how "we used to do things", with how "we are doing things". Some of he old school methods referred to below may be things you are currently doing, some of the current methods may be things your currently doing. Feel free to comment. Bill LeClerck, the current MNT scrummaging coach, has posted a paper with key points on the usarugby coaches portal - if you've got a chance to check it out, there is a lot of good info there.
|old school||currently endorsed method|
|props sit on locks shoulders||prop and locks are perfectly in line - shoulder to buttocks|
|everybody "looks up", locks looking at their opponent||head is in a neutral position, tongue to teeth, look through the eyebrows to create muscle tension|
|binds are top priority - shoulders "pop out" for a tight fit||binds are a means to an end - body profile is the top priority, binds are designed to channel power forward|
|Scrummaging is a "less important" role for flankers and 8||flankers and 8 are part of the "back 5" and are critical power contributors, participating in all aspects of training previously thought of as "tight 5 time"|
|the tight head prop "leads in", and the rest follow||the back five, but especially #8, drive the props in, so power generation starts from behind|
|forwards engage on an auditory cue from the referee, going on "engage", with the front row generally a spit second ahead of the rest of the pack||the #8 takes his/her cue visually from the hooker to initiate the drive, the remainder of the players, while still "listening" react to the drive behind them as the primary trigger|
|flankers set up in a split legged "sprint start", and maintain the position throughout the scrum||flankers set up in a power position and driving just as hard as locks|
|#8 sets up like a lock and drives off of both legs at engagement||#8 sets up in a sprint start and drops the forward leg back at engagement, effectively "letting off the brake"|
|locks start on their knees, and enter the scrum via the space between the calf and the knee of the prop and hooker, sliding their head up and "locking" it into position||locks start off their knees, in a comfortable power position, and the props and hookers simply let them in|
|locks "hang" from the prop in front of them, treating that playe as a pillar||locks bind in such a way as to apply pressure to the buttock/leg "seam", while the props push back against them for balance. Both players have identical profiles|
|power comes in waves, with an initial drive and secondary drives as distinct phases||pressure and tension are continually in balance until the ball is out of the scrum.|
|locks "lock out", splaying their feet with all 8 cleats in the ground to hold the scrum steady||all 8 stay in a bent legged position applying constant pressure to the individual in front of them, the individual behind them, and the ground|
|upper body and leg strength are considered THE bottom line attributes of a tight five player||core strength is considered THE bottom line attribute of a tight five player|
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Along with the idea of "high level coaching", we often speak of and hear of "high level rugby". This summer I've an an opportunity to attend a variety of high level rugby events, and observe both the players and coaches in action.
So what's the difference between "high level rugby" and the rest of the rugby? How do we as coaches get "high level rugby" to happen? Is it in fact happening here in the US, or are we kidding ourselves when we use the term?
Certainly "high level rugby", as I see it, requires more than just highly skilled athletes. It's about the team's ability to make collective decisions, on the fly, to overcome the defense, or, defensively, overcome the offense. That much I feel sure of.
What about the individual players and their skills? Do we teach players progressively, ie level 1, 2, 3 skills? Or, do we teach the skill at the highest level, and progressively coach to success?
If the skill set does not have a safety component, I say go for it. I'm tired of seeing players who have been told "just run forward" by their coach, simply because they are new. I'm tired of the athleticism being coached out of players in order to facilitate better ball retention. Here's an example if that doesn't make sense.
A player with a couple of years of college experience, very athletic, good power and size, comes to a camp or a practice. Nearly 100% of the time, he or she chooses to "take the contact" offensively. Why? Because they've been told FIRST learn to hit someone, hold onto the ball in contact, and place the ball. By the time they were "ready" to learn how to pass through contact or run evasively, they had already developed habits and muscle memory to do exactly the opposite. So, to coach them through to this next skill level, we need to deconstruct what they've worked so hard to get good at.
So what's the answer? Do we coach how to run evasively and pass FIRST, and then teach all the ball retention pieces? This method will undoubtedly result in lots of 50-50 passes and lost balls in contact.
We can take a whole-part-whole approach to things, but this is really hard, and takes a willingness by coaches to let failure occur, let players struggle, and sometimes, lose games in the interest of developing skilled decision makers. Using this approach, the decision making about WHEN to pass happens a whole lot sooner, but we need to continually go back to the pieces and tweak the pass, the body control in contact, etc.
What would you describe as "high level skills" as opposed to "beginner or intermediate" skills? How do you know "high level rugby" when you see it? Or, is high level rugby simply what happens when EVERYONE on the pitch is fit enough to accomplish their jobs at a moderate level?
And more so, how to you "teach" high level rugby? How do they do it outside the states? And really, how many of us who "say" we coach high level rugby are actually doing that? Seriously ... ?
Monday, July 09, 2007
I'm going to split my next post into two parts - one regarding coaching, and one regarding game, since it's a topic that could generate much discussion.
I got an email while I was on vacation from a new coach, who is experiencing some self doubt (I'm keeping her name anonymous by request).
"I've never played for a really good team, I've never played select sides, and I never even dreamed of playing for the Eagles. Now I'm coaching a team that is getting really competitive and I don't know how to take them to the next level, since I never played at that level".
So here's the question - is it necessary for a coach to have "high level athlete experience" in order to coach "high level rugby?", or, can a coach educate themselves to the point where they become qualified to coach high level rugby.
To this new coach - I totally understand how you feel, and have wondered the very same thing myself. Elite level athletes play sports at a different level, but how much of that is based on genetics/fitness/training/instinct, versus how much is based on study and education? As a player I never reached the highest level. As a result, when I first started coaching I was very comfortable coaching "up to" the level that I had reached. It took quite a bit of time and study before I felt comfortable with players who achieved greater glories that I did on the field. I'm confident that practicing the craft of coaching, studying video, attending camps and clinics run by other coaches, and actually working with higher level players can build your coaching skills to the degree necessary to meet your players needs, but what of that final extra step that takes a coach and/or her players all the way to the top?
As a player who never instinctively knew how to evade defenders, I had to dissect how to decelerate, shift weight from one foot to the other, accelerate, balance, etc etc etc. Often I've heard the naturally evasive athlete say something along the lines of "why didn't she just step that defender and take that hole?". For some at this level of skill, "how" to execute isn't nearly as hard to learn as "when" to execute. I seemed to always know "when", but couldn't get my body to do it in time. While this was somewhat disatrous to me as a athlete, I think it helped me develop as a coach (especially when working with newer or less athletic players). But how about coaching the elite level athlete whose bodies CAN execute? Is there something a coach with an elite athlete past can give them that I'll never be able to? What do you think?
If we were to look at the coaches in our nation who work with the senior US teams and with the senior territorial teams, there certainly does seem to be a pattern of retired USA players occupying those roles, particularly in the women's game, particularly women coaches. Yet this doesn't seem to be true of the men who coach the women's high level teams/programs. Are we, as women, holding each other to a higher standard than we hold our male counterparts? Or even worse, are we, as women, making gender assumptions that we shouldn't regarding the skill/knowledge of male vs female coaches? Can a man without International PLAYING experience achieve the highest level of coaching in the US? Can a woman?
Interestingly, when i google Peter Thornburn, the men's national team coach, the press releases speak entirely to his coaching experience - not a word about him as a player. When I google Kathy Flores, the women's national team head coach, the press releases mentions primarily her playing career and this despite the fact the her achievements as Berkley's head coach make her far and away the most impressive coach in US women's rugby, and that under her our WNT is back on track and fast on the road to success.
So - is this just random? Or, as Americans (men but especially women), do we demand that our home grown rugby coaches have an international athlete resume? Is it wrong to suggest that coaches born outside our shores are not held to this same standard? Is it because we are still young as a rugby nation?
And to the original question - Can a coach, who has never competed as an athlete at the select side or higher level, coach players with those ambitions and even those experiences? Opinions please!
My advice to this individual - keep working at it. Go to camps, go to clinics, go to coaching workshops. If you can't find a rugby coaching workshop to go to, go to another sports workshop. Reach out to the select side coaches in your area and ask to attend their camps and tryouts. Ask to help - get guest coaches to come to your trainings. Find someone to mentor you. When you see something you like - TRY IT. Just like players take chances, we as coaches have to take chances. America is the land of opportunity and invention. Keep working at it, perhaps in a few years you'll be the one introducing new techniques, defensive systems, or attacking strategies. Just keep coaching.
Here's an interesting article from the USOC Coaching newsletter about coaching veteran elite athletes vs emerging elite athletes.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
From June 15th's Midwest U23 v MARFU U23 match ... great game all around! Scroll down for more
Cool overhead view of a wheeling scrum ...
Montage of all the games tries & the phases that lead up to them ...
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
In case you haven't heard the rumors, it's true - there WILL be a women's North America 4 competition, and right now team names are being discussed. One of the folks at USA Rugby thought it might be a great blogging topic.
The men's program, in keeping with the Eagles = birds of prey theme, went with "Hawks" and "Falcons". What do you guys think? Should the women use those same names? Anyone got any other fantastic, creative, appropriate idea? Any ideas that will stimulate energy and get people fired up? Let's see some comments!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
My mind is still a swirl after this weekend. The MARFU U-23s won the NASC this year, fighting through two incredibly hard games and mounting a somewhat miraculous late game comeback to do it. As I started to think about what to even blog, it occurs to me that I'm really just not ready for that data dump. All sorts of topics come to mind - the criticality of taking points when you can get them (both wins were by only two points), the importance of trusting your team leaders to do most of the actual leading, trusting depth, playing games, and finding the faith to do what appears
impossible. Oh, and while video is effective for statistics and tactics, it's really hard to get a feeling for a teams intensity or physicality. SoCal was INTENSE.
So - let's leave that for now, and in the interest of all the players involved in the championship match, I'll make some corrections to the various accounting that are out there (I may have reported some inaccuracies in my fog of excitement that also resulted in me losing everything that was in my pockets from jumping up and down so high).
The scoring went like this:
SoCal 5 (5-0)
SoCal 5 (10-0)
MARFU 3 (10-3)
SoCal 5 (15-3)
Socal 5 (20-3)
MARFU 5 (20-8)
HALFTIME SCORE - 20-8 Socal
SoCal 5 (25-8)
MARFU 5 (25-13)
MARFU 2 (25-15)
MARFU 5 (25-20)
MARFU 5 (25-25)
MARFU 2 (25-27)
SoCal's try scorers were Kelly Griffin (15) and Alexis (XL) Volen (10)
MARFU's try scorers were Kate Daley (5), Vanesha McGee (5), and Liz Inkellis (10)
MARFU's kicker was Emily Tunney, and accounted for 7 points (1 pk, 2 conversions).
So perhaps tommorrow, maybe I'll blog about something coach-like.
PS - I just received this from the U23 manager .... Congrats to all the players on the NZ list, you guys are going to have the time of your lives!
2007 NEW ZEALAND TOUR PARTICIPANTS:
Friday, June 08, 2007
I received an inquiry from a coach with a left-handed fly-half today. She is looking for information about how to minimize the impact this has on the player's game, specifically the kicking game.
The conventional wisdom, as least what I've been exposed to, is that it's not so important whether you are left or right dominant, as long as we are are coaching our players to do everything from both sides. In that perfect world we dream of, players should all be able to pass and kick equally well from both hands and both feet.
Now - I also know there's lots of really detailed information floating around out there about left footed vs right footed kickers, that there's some visual math we can do that goes something like this:
If a (left or right) footed kicker puts a ball down the (left or right) side of the pitch, the ball will spin (clockwise or counterclockwise) and will then bounce (in or out) of touch if it hits the ground just inside the line.
Request #1: Is there someone out there who can describe this in terms we can all understand?
I've also heard coaches talk (and have reserved my opinion) about how you should choose wings to play specifically right and left, based upon the idea of handedness that goes something like this:
Since the majority of players are right handed, it stands to reason that players will be more successful moving the ball all the way to the wing on the left side side of the pitch, since they will be more effective passing left (since we use the right hand to pass left). Assuming this is true it is more likely that you will get the overlap on the left and need a player to turn the corner. The right wing will more than likely engage in more contact (since the ball theoretically would move slower when the ball goes down the line on the right). So, when choosing wings, turn-the-corner speed = left wing, win-the-contact = right wing.
Yet another idea is that the wings play left and right based on their "footedness", rather than handedness, and that the whole left right thing maps the the kicking problem above.
As if that's not all of it, several coaches swear by the idea of playing one type of wing on the right because the blind side is more likely to be attacked on the right, vs the left.
Request #2 - Would someone in the know explain the left/right wing selection?
The left-right thing goes on - should we kick to the left side of the field because its harder to move the ball right after the receipt? Some coaches play left and right flanker rather than open and blind, and so on and so on and so on.
The original original request was about helping the left handed fly-half developing the right handed kicking and passing skills - any recommendations beyond the standard "always train both hands and feet?"
Thanks in advance, i hope to see some interesting comments!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The MARFU U-23 Women's All Star Program is proud to announce it's roster for the 2007 NASC. Players were selected from the fall LAU All Star Championships, the MARFU U-23 Developmental team, and this weekend's open tryouts.
After the weekend of tryouts, which included a full day of training and 2 matches against the NoVa women's first and second sides, 24 players plus 4 alternates were identified. An unforeseen cancellation of the Northeast/MARFU Senior warm up match allowed some of the senior MARFU players to take the pitch with NoVa, providing the young sharks with a very challenging opponent.
"Testing the candidates against a top division 1 team is the perfect finish to our selection cycle. We know the competition in Blaine is going to be tough, so we look for players who can really push the bar both defensively and offensively. Slotting 2 wins against NoVa this weekend was just a bonus - finding the right players enroute was what we were ultimately after"
The NoVa women awarded #8 Kate Daley (Penn State) and #12 Amber Benlian (Maryland Stingers) MVP honors for the first game, and #13 Lauren Rosso (Penn State) MVP honors for the second game. "We've been exploring a lot of new ways to create space on offense, and as a result we were able to get players like Vanesha McGee (Philadelphia Women) and Liz Inkellis (Princeton) and Sarah Miller (James Madison) into the try zone several times. We are really excited for the NASC, especially our first match against the Midwest".
Next Saturday at 1:00 the U-23 Sharks will take on the DC Furies in a final warmup match. Interested parties can find details and directions at http://www.girlsplayrugby.com/marfu-u23 .
Amber Benlian, Maryland Stingers (c)
Katy Black, Westchester University
Kathleen Brady, James Madision
Julia Brown, University of Delaware
Laurie Bryan, Virginia Tech
Stephanie Burkhardt, Westchester University
Nicole Coffineau, Virginia Tech
Kate Daley, Penn State
Allison Dolan, LaSalle University
Liz Inkellis, Princeton
Lori Kenuk, University of Delaware
Allurie Kephart, Penn State
Fontaine Lloyd, Penn State
Vanesha McGee, Philadelphia Women (vc)
Sarah Miller, James Madison
Allison Myers, Philadelphia Women
Carrie Perdue, University of Virginia
Emily Shiflett, University of Virginia
Emily Tunney, Philadelphia Women (vc)
Elizabeth Walsh, University of Delaware
Lauren Rosso, Penn State
Sheri Villa, American University
Khanh Vu, Penn State
Rachel Warden, NoVa
Alison Worman, Penn State
Lisa E Rosen - Head Coach
Roshna Wunderlich - Assistant Coach
Deb Yates - Manager
Jen LaFalce - Athletic Trainer
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
MARFU U-23 All Star Tryouts - THIS WEEKEND!
May 19th and 20th 2007, are the MARFU U23 Women's All Star tryouts in the Washington, DC area. May 19th will be an open tryout - a coach's recommendation IS NOT required, however, competing players should have competence at general rugby skills, good to excellent fitness, and a fantastic attitude :) .
This is NOT a clinic for beginning players. We will spend the day learning the techniques, style of play, and communication tools that the MARFU U23 squad will use. Individual skills, fitness, and team play will be assessed throughout the day.
Saturday, May 19th
MARFU U23 Open Tryout Camp
Colmar Manor Pitch (3200 37th Avenue, Bladensburg, Maryland)
Open to all USA Rugby CIPP registered, female MARFU players under the age of 23 on Jan 1, 2007.
Check-in 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM
Warm-up 9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Morning Session 10 AM...
Sunday, May 20th
MARFU U23 Matches vs. NoVa Women
Gravely Point Pitch (near National Airport)
All selected MARFU Players(based upon previous day's tryouts or other accommodations) should report to the field time specified at the end of Saturday tryouts.
Two full matches will be played.
What to bring to Saturday's tryout camp:
* Please bring your own LUNCH and WATER - there is a Subway near by if needed.
* Please bring your own kit needs (boot, mouthguards, tape, pre-wrap) including a LIGHT and DARK shirt.
* Signed waiver form.
* There is a nominal $10 fee per player to participate in the tryout camp.
* Please also have your insurance information available.
* Your USA Rugby CIPP number (can be found on www.usarugby.org).
Players who are unable to attend Saturday's session due to graduation conflicts but still wish to compete for a spot need to contact Lisa/Deb ASAP. All exceptions must be arranged in advance.
Pre-registration is not required, however, in order to accurately plan and manage the day, it would be helpful to know who's coming. If you intend on coming to the camp, please drop us a line and let us know more about you. If you have rugby-related questions or concerns about your availability, please contact Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly.
Coaches are encouraged to provide information about players they believe can compete for a spot - the more details the better. Coaches are also welcome to attend and assist at tryouts. If you are a coach and are interested in attending, please email Lisa and let her know what your specialty is, what timeframe you're available and if you willing/capable to referee at all.
At the conclusion of Saturday's session, 40 players will be identified to return Sunday for two scrimmages against the NoVa Women's RFC. Other players are welcome to stay, however their participation in Sunday's activities will be limited. At the conclusion of Sunday's session, 28 players will be identified to be part of the official 2007 MARFU U23 team. This team will have a test match against the D.C. Furies on Saturday May 26th and travel to Blaine MN, Jun 12-17, to compete at the National All Star Championships, where we will play the other Territory U23 teams in Tier A.
Details are always being posted here on our website regarding specific venue locations etc. Please disseminate this email to interested players, and let's plan for a terrific weekend of rugby. We hope to see lots of you there!
Lisa E Rosen
MARFU U23 Head Coach
MARFU U23 Team Manager
Monday, May 14, 2007
Rather than repost to the comments, I'm bringing this back to the top. Original post is here.
It seems that someone with inner knowledge of the Eastern Illinois program has posted in defense of the comments on www.collegerugbyamerica.com, though that individual chooses to post as "Anonymous". From the content and tenor of your posts, Anonymous, it seems as if you must be someone with the program, so why don't you let us know who you are?
In summary, this individual states that there is no disrespect intended to the "clubs", but until state sports organizations manage rugby as they do other high school sports, the term "high school rugby" can't be used. Likewise, in colleges across the country where rugby is managed as a club sport, the term "college rugby" can't be used.
This claim was backed up by a response to a query to the webmaster at collegerugbyamerica.com ...
"In order to be considered high school rugby, the term must consist of
possession of high school varsity teams who are sponsored by a state
athletic association. Currently, here are no high school varsity girls
rugby teams in the U.S. All information is absolutely correct. High
school age club rugby exists all over the country yes, but the term
high school rugby is not valid as high school track, high school soccer
or high school lacrosse is."
That's interesting ... I had no idea that those terms were copyrighted. Who exactly owns the copyright to "Girls High School Rugby"? Who owns the copyright to "College Rugby"? GIVE ME A BREAK! Stop the BS. Fix the site and represent the state of the sport accurately.
FYI the email response also had no name attached to it - just "email@example.com". He or she who is speaking for rugby in America, identify yourself!
OK, I'm being to judgmental. Let's give Anonymous the benefit of the doubt. Let's let the NCAA tell us what the state of the sport is in the United States. I went to the NCAA site entered "rugby" as a search term. It came back with two pages.
The first refers specifically to the state of rugby in the USA, and provides information on it as an NCAA emerging sport.
Level of Participation (high school club/college club):
3,225 girls participating in high school club rugby.
11,000 women collegiate club rugby players.
347 total women's collegiate rugby clubs.
What's this? People are playing rugby? I WOULD HOPE SO, OTHERWISE WHY WOULD THE NCAA NAME IT AS AN EMERGING SPORT? Coach Graziano's statements on collegerugbyamerica.com that he MUST recruit athletes for rugby from other sports, because there IS NO GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL RUGBY IN THE USA, is completely mis representative and misleading. The NCAA has no problem telling the world how many players participate in club and college rugby at the high school and collegiate level, why do you? And yes, Anonymous, i can see that they say "High School Club", and Collegiate Club". I get the distinction, it's about the word CLUB. The point is, they are not saying "THERE IS NO GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL RUGBY", like collegerugbyamerica.com is. The NCAA is telling the truth.
The NCAA site also says this, on the same page:
Remarks: Rugby is one of the largest and continually growing club sports in the United States with almost 350 collegiate women's clubs already in existence. USA Rugby currently provides start-up kits to assist newly formed clubs become successful on-campus teams. In addition, the International Olympic Committee Program Commission has recommended rugby be added as an Olympic sport for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
I get where you are coming from, Anonymous. Varsity, varsity, varsity. That's excellent! I totally support the movement of rugby into a varsity model. But not this way. Varsity programs need to make the sport better, not worse. You state in your comments that "rugby is currently a non-sanctioned club sport at all levels". It's a TOTALLY SANCTIONED CLUB SPORT! Universities with rugby CLUBS manage them through club sports offices, CIPP their players, oversee budget and fund raising activities, manage coaches, and YES, even have "codes of conduct". This is not 20 years go. Club sports, rugby specifically, is NOT what it used to be.
Let's keep digging. One of the things that varsity rugby has always come up against was the idea that it's participants can't play select sides or for the USA. I know from my own personal experience that players at a particular institution were told they could not participate in the USA U19 program, because it was "against NCAA bylaws". REALLY...
Here, according to the NCAA web site, are the "PROPOSED" laws for rugby.
There are in fact some specifications about not playing "amateur rugby" during the school year. But scroll down a little further ...
220.127.116.11.2.2 Olympic and National Team Development Program
There are no limits on the number of student-athletes from the same institution who may participate in Olympic and national team development programs. Such programs may also include a coach and student-athlete from the same institution, provided:
(a) The national governing body (NGB) conducts and administers the developmental program;
(b) The NGB selects coaches involved in the developmental program; and
(c) The NGB or the selected coaches select the involved participants. (Revised: 2/21/02)
WOW! National Team Development programs? You mean like the NASC? Seriously? I'm willing to bet there are some athletes at EIU who would love the chance to represent their country. This is great news!
So just one last detail...
Anonymous says in his or her post that "No club team, in any sport can come close to matching the fitness and athleticism of a NCAA sport."
When challenged by AOF to explain a lost to Texas A&M (a group of "less athletic club players), Anonymous cited that a top scorers was injured. PLEASE! How about just acknowledging that Texas A&M were better. No, rather than acknowledging that perhaps the athletes at Texas A&M were as good or better, Anonymous gave the Texas A&M coach the kudos .. "the Texas A&M coach is very talented and a great guy." I'm sure he's a terrific coach, but don't some of those "club athletes" deserve SOME of the credit? Why is it so hard to acknowledge that at least some club athletes work and train as hard as varsity athletes?
Anonymous goes on to direct us to the EIU website where we can read about EIU's awesome season and record breaking statistics. I was expecially impressed by the "124-0 thrashing" of the Spartans. Hopefully those terrific athletes (and don't get me wrong - there is no doubt there are some great athletes) that are coming to rugby from other sports to play at EIU will get a chance to challenge themselves in hard games against great competition, and possibly even get a chance to represent their country, since the NCAA says they can!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
So this link got gchatted to me today ... http://www.collegerugbyamerica.com.
And usually I don't blog mad. Today I am blogging mad.
At first i thought AWSOME! Another step forward towards NCAA Women's Rugby. Awsome!
And then I started reading. This site claims its the "OFFICIAL site of Women's College Rugby". Really? There's no NCAA logo - and USA Rugby, with it's NCAA Initiative isn't even mentioned. I'm not sure who owns this site (a whoisquery has it registered to godaddy.com, so just a service), but it FULL of misinformation and certainly misrepresentative.
There's a prominent interview with Frank Graziano, the EIU Head Coach - and no disrepect intended, but some of his statements are flat out WRONG, and I'm pretty sure it's not an accident.
For example, when asked about recruiting, Coach Graziano states:
"With no high school rugby anywhere in the U.S., the cross-over athlete provides the recruiting base for our program". Are you kidding me? There's high school rugby everywhere! EVERYWHERE! Here in Eastern Penn, there are over 30+ girls high school teams.
That statement is echoed, in italics, in bold on the girls high school page. "College Rugby America recognizes the long overdue need for the formation of girls high school rugby. Currently, there is no girls high school rugby anywhere in the United States".
That's right Divine Savior, Kent, Budd Bay, Haverford, Blackhearts, Conestoga, Summit, Littleton etc etc etc. YOU DON'T EXIST.
You wanna be really pissed, everyone who's played rugby in college? Look at THIS page. The first college rugby program was EIU in 1998? I'll bite on the first NCAA program ... but DON'T IGNORE THE REST OF US!!! I played college rugby in 1982!
There is a press release about the newest multi-sport athletes. All are from EIU.
And then there is the "National U18 Development Program". There's much talk of camps to prep athletes for college rugby. According to the site, "This is the only program in the nation designed for the development of future college rugby student-athletes." Really? So what about the Penn State Camp? The East Stroudsberg Camp? The camps run by the USA U-19 Program? The camps run in Minnesota by MARF? The DOZENS of camps run across the nation by club and college programs every summer and winter? Seriously, this is the ONLY camp in the whole country tailored for college rugby student-athletes? I cry b#@$#@*(t.
Let's take a look at the staff for these camps. WAIT, its the EIU staff!
Hey, there's a section where we talk about laws... WAIT, it's with Coach Graziano!
Ok - so granted, I'm a little pissed. Everyone has the right to recruit and recruit and recruit. But DO NOT misrepresent your program our your place in the world. There are hundreds of high school programs in the country. Oh, they don't have a varsity label? That doesn't mean they don't exist. How many high school rugby players were on PSU's winning team this year? LOTS - and I bet more than a few of them attended the PSU camp when they were in high school. I bet the same goes for Stanford. I know that the high school programs in Colorado and Minnesota and Seattle are pumping out international caliber athletes.
DO NOT Represent your staff and your camp as the only people in the country running development programs. Somewhere along the line someone identified and coached all the student athletes playing, and it was someone other than Coach Graziano. There are SO MANY PEOPLE - "big" names and "no" names working their asses off to develop the high school rugby athlete, working their asses off to get them ready for the best college rugby experience - and this web site is representing itself as the "OFFICIAL" source of pretty much everything. USA Rugby HAS an official NCAA initiative - and the aren't even mentioned!
This is not the official anything. It's a marketing tool for Eastern Illinois University, and its misrepresentations are insulting (I can't speak for the whole rugby community, but I'm insulted). You DO NOT represent everyone. Put the EIU logo on this site and make it right.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Last weekend the MARFU U23 program kicked off its 2007 campaign by entering a developmental U23 team in the Washington Ruggerfest, hosted by the DC Furies.
The tournament is one of the largest spring tournaments on east coast and features three tiers of competition. The MARFU U-23 Developmental team entered the middle tier, along with Developmental teams from the DC Furies, Nova, and Beantown, and National Division II Club finalists Albany.
We worked hard to get the roster just right - to have the appropriate depth at each position, and just enough top-level experience raise everyone's level. 2005 & 2006 veterans Emily Tunney (Philadelphia Women) and Amber Benlian (Maryland Stingers) provided stellar leadership as captain and vice captain respectively, while Georgetown's Katie Welter and American University's Sherri Villa returned to the teams vastly improved from last year. Villa put in one of the strongest solo efforts at the tournament, showing speed, creativity and flair both offensively and defensively, while Welter was a rock at fullback, dangerous under the high ball and dead accurate with her open field tackles.
The remaining 18 players were all new to the program, and were identified at the MARFU U-23 LAU Round Robin Tournament.
The group gathered Friday evening for a 2 hour training session - after introductions were done we reviewed our game plan for the weekend, got a little light contact in, defined our communication system, and adjourned for the evening.
Saturday's first match was a bit rough against the DC Furies Developmental side. DC was peppered with veteran select side players, and we were still learning each others names. While everyone adjusted to a new system of play, we held the Furies to 2 tries but were not successful getting into the tryzone. After some light work on our ball retention techniques, the team met the Village Lions Saturday afternoon and turned in much improved 10-0 performance. We steadily improved throughout the day and even through each match. The players got to know each other all a little better during a team dinner in the city, and did some goal setting to improve Sunday's performance.
Sunday was set up as a "play till you lose" day. We faced the Albany Siren's at 9:00am, and were able to really stretch our legs. Albany was tough at the breakdown and very strong ball in hand, but our strength 1-22 was the difference, and we entered the semi finals after a 29-0 victory.
Our semi-final match, it turned out, was a rematch against the DC Furies developmental team. Now the the team was getting comfortable with each other, and bolstered by a very unusual coin toss, the team approached the match relaxed and focused. After an even first half, we were finally able to put players through gaps - and twice Shippensburg center Danielle Dincher and University of Delaware wing Elizabeth Walsh were able to 2 v 1 the fullback for a score. At full time the score was 19-5, an impressive turnaround against a very challenging opponent.
Our third and final game of the day and fifth of the tournament was literally a battle of youth vs experience, as we faced always dangerous, always sneaky Back in Black in the second division final. Back in Black is an over-30 touring sides, but there's nothing weak or slow about these women. With players like Nancy Fitz, Krista McFarren, Dana Creager, and more too numerous to name, it is a team that makes a habit of winning tournaments. Back and Black blew through the early rounds undefeated, and we knew we would be in for a hard contest.
Within the opening minutes hooker Sherri Villa foiled a Back in Black attacked, kicking her own poached ball ahead into the tryzone and winning the race to ground it. Back in Black answered shortly after with a try of their own, as two attackers broke free and smoothly finished with room to spare. The U23s keep the pressure up, but the ball handling and continuity skills of Back in Black proved a little too much to handle as three more tries were put in prior to half.
We started off the second half strong, with fresh legs substituted in bulk, and midway through the second half Villa executed practically a carbon copy of her first try. Flanker Lindsay Wick was tremendously effective defensively, while Tunney and Belian strung together some nice penetrating attacks at the fringe and in the midfield. Welter was again solid defensively, stopping the lone runner repeatedly, but whenever Back in Black could create the 2 v 1 they were successful in finishing. Final score 30 - 10, Back in Black victors.
The spring developmental event is a prequel to the MARFU U-23 selection camp, which will be held in Washington DC May 19-20. Training camp will take place on May 19th, while matches against NOVA A and B will take place on Sunday the 20th. Players will be selected from this venue to represent the Mid Atlantic at the U-23 National All Star Championships in Blaine Mn this June.
The selection camp is open to all age-eligibile players who are members of MARFU. For details, visit http://www.girlsplayrugby.com/marfu-u23 or contact Head Coach Lisa Rosen.
MARFU U-23 Dev, Ruggerfest 2007:
Allison Dolan - LaSalle University
Lori Kenuk - University of Delaware
Sherri Villa - American University
Lisa Hrunka - Shippensburg University
Ally Clements - Virginia Tech
Ashley Keen - Drexel University
Meredith Black - Virginia Tech
Janet Finely - James Madison
Elizabeth Scerbo - James River
Emily Tunney (c) - Philadelphia Women
Lindsay Wick - Brandywine Women
Julie Brown - University of Delaware
Erin Rideout - Mary Washington
Allison Myers - Philadelphia Women
Amber Benlian (vs) - Maryland Stingers
Laurie Bryan - Virginia Tech
Danielle Dincher - Shippensburg
Jeanna Beard - UMBC
Misha Heller - DC Furies
Elizabeth Walsh - University of Delaware
Sarah Foster - University of Virginia
Katie Welter - Georgetown
Manager - Deb Yates
Head Coach - Lisa Rosen
Assistant Coach - Roshna Wunderlich
Local Coordinator - Gabe Ortiz
Friday, May 04, 2007
This isn't technically a coaching post, rather a question for the general public about policy and practice.
Let me preface my question/comments by saying unequivocally that I respect and honor the hard work and challenges that referees and referee organizations accross the country face week after week and month after month. This is NOT a commentary on the quality of refereeing, just a question of policy/practice.
Are there any guidelines anyone knows about that speak to referee allocations, and specifically refer to gender (of the teams, not the refs)? When the pool of available referees ranges from National Panel/B panel to C3, what guidelines do allocations groups across the various territories and even outside the USA use to determine which matches get what refs?
Has anyone been in a situation where, as a matter of policy and practice men get higher rated refs than women?
In my area, if all things are equal (ie everyone has a matrix match), senior men (of various divisions), men's D1 college, and men's D2 college will be allocated the highest available refs, and then in the pecking order (i think - there might be another level of men in there) is women senior D1. This is due to "the higher pace and intensity" of these matches. One can imagine where women's collegiate D2 etc rates in the mix ....
I'm curious as to how kosher this is. Are collegiate men's matches across the various divisions generally perceived to merit a higher level referee than Division 1 club women? Do men in general merit a higher level ref than women because of the pace of the game? Is there some common sense going on here that I don't see? Is there a pecking order?
I recently got to spend some time with a very high level men's program (TU Select Side +), and really, the "level of play" is similar across the genders. The men of course are faster, hit harder, change direction quicker, etc, but there aren't any super secret tactical or technical things that go on in a men's game vs a women's game that only a higher level referee would recognize.
EVERYONE wants the best ref available for their match - especially for big matches. Is it OK to say "first the men, then the women"? I mean, we all pay the same dues, and a ref doesn't get paid more for a men's game than a women's game so .... ?
Since it's taboo (in pretty much all unions) to bring in a hired gun "ringer" referee from another union to ref a big match, we are pretty much in a situation where we get what we get. I know, I know - pick up a whistle. We have several folks on our team who actively ref, mostly high school and occasionally college matches. So - all credit and respect to all who blow the whistle .. I'd love to hear your take on this particular issue. Please chime in!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Recieved this morning from the USA U19 manager, and I adore at least a couple of people on this staff - I recommend it far and wide to your young players!
U19 Women Junior Eagles Flight Camp
June 17-21, 2007
Who: Female athletes age 13-19
What: The inaugural Under-19 USA Rugby player development camp.
Why: This camp is designed to instruct players from all levels of skill and experience, including beginners,
to play more effectively as an individual and as a member of a team.
* Interact with USA National team players and coaches
* Film study and individual analysis of play
* Individual player evaluation and feedback * Position-specific coaching
* Full on duty medical staff
When: June 17-21, 2007 (Athletes should arrive by 4 PM June 17 and
may depart after 10 AM on the 21.)
Where: National Sports Complex Blaine, MN
Camp Staff: Head Coach: Bryn Chivers, Coaches: Sue Oldenburg, Tasha Bishop & Lance Connolly. Managers: Jeff Noe & Rachel Flynn
Fee: $399 covers all camp fees including instruction, housing and meals at the National Sports Center.
This is an open camp and any young female player aged 13 - 19 can attend. Space is limited to eighty players and registration has already started. U19 WNT Coach Bryn Chivers recently said "The goal of the camp is to provide the players with the best coaching possible, to introduce them to the U19 WNT Program and to give them access to players and coaches from all of our WNT Programs. I think this is going to be an incredible event and it's exciting to see how many players have already signed up"
Contact Information: All questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brochure and Registration Form: http://www.usarugby.org/media/EDocs/eaglecamp.pdf
Saturday, April 07, 2007
I had a great opportunity yesterday to see some of the NA4 preparation, and with that a conversation with one of the specialist coaches. We talked primarily about the role of the #8 as relates to power generation in the scrum.
I've seen and coached #8s to engage a variety of different ways:
Feet shoulder width or more apart, essentially even.
The "slingshot", as part of the total impact method
The "sprint start", with feet split legged like a sprinter, driving forward off the front foot.
What you'll see in the video here is yet another variation. The #8 sets up split legged, as he would for a sprint style start, but instead of driving forward, he actually drops his forward leg back. The resulting effect is that gravity immediately drops him low and forward, propelling the locks ahead of him.
Please forgive the poor quality, it's a cell phone video. Thoughts?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
We've all been there - you show up on match day, thinking you are playing a B side, or a developmental team, a friendly match, whatever, and low-and-behold, staring across the pitch from you is a player that just last week was wearing a USA jersey. Or a Territorial select side jersey, or a National 7s jersey, or just played in a national championship game.
More and more teams are moving away from the A side/B side designations and going to "Senior and Developmental" or "D1 and D2". The reason? Well, the promising new rookie just flat out learns faster playing next to stronger players. Let's say we've got young #9 we're trying to develop. Play her with your least experienced pack and a brand new #8, and she's doomed to failure. She will develop at a snails pace and your backline is unlikely to see the ball at all, which hinders EVERYONE's development.
But, play her with your champion of the world #8, and an experienced #10, and suddenly she's got clean ball, she can make decisions, and she's operating at a higher work rate than she ever would in the "b side" game. NOW, she has to step up. Let's face it though ... your champion of the world # 8 is still going to run picks, she's still going to make monster tackles, she's still going to poach the ball. And if she's playing against a team that is not quite as fit, big, or well trained, she's going to break tackles, evade defenders, and get into space.
Is this fair? Where is the line?
The reason I bring this up today is that my team and I ran into an awkward situation this weekend. Expectations clearly weren't communicated between match secs and coaches, and we put out a stronger team than our opposition coach thought we should have. Bottom line, for me, there is a real difference between a B side game and a developmental or "mixed side" game.
We were a D1 team playing two separate matches against two local D2 teams, and in an effort to best develop all our players, we decided to split our 38 person roster right down the middle and play "mixed sides". We had a couple of senior select side players who played in each of the matches, not more than 20 minutes each .... and a couple of very high level U23 players who played most of the match. Two of our select side players sat out completely. Our coaching staff and selection committee did what we though was our due diligence, and were obsessive about how we selected - we wanted enough A players to keep the work rate high, provide leadership, and get good ball to our developmental players, while still giving them the bulk of the game time. When selections for each match shook out, it was right down the middle - 1/2 and 1/2 for both games.
This plan backfired horribly. Or maybe it didn't. It's an ethical dilemma, I guess. We won both of the matches, the first, vs what we perceived to be a slightly stronger team) by 40ish points, the second by 27 points. Not huge blowouts, but decisive wins.
I thought our competition - both teams - performed impressively, and was delighted that only one or two of our tries were the result of solo efforts. I thought everyone was happy. I thought the rugby was good, clean, fast, and physical. There were no yellow or red cards, scrums were safe, the ref didn't give any warnings and it seemed like people were having fun. There was one unfortunate injury to one of our first opponents, the result of a BRUTAL small-woman on small-woman level 3 tackle. I was in my little coaching world, pleased we were attacking space like we practiced, and making mental notes about turnovers, ball retention in contact, and lineouts.
Well as it turned out, we (I, the president, the match sec AND the captain) were vehemently chastised for playing ANY select side players at all. It was, apparently, an issue of "sportsmanship". A good sportsman or woman, the theory was proposed, would not let Select Side players play at all against a D2 team.
So - what does the general public think? Is it OK for an Eagle, or a TU select side player, to play in a D2 game, or should D1 A side players be limited to D1 games, and D1 B side players to D2 games? If it's OK to play your top players in a mixed roster match, how much is too much? How strong is to strong? What score is indicative of a blowout? What's the line between fair and competitive? Is it possible for an individual player or players to be TOO GOOD to step on the field against a particular opponent? Is it possible for an individual player to be TOO BIG (one of the assertions) to play against a team that doesn't match up to her size?
To be fair, the games were won not through the efforts of these handful of players, who barely had time to get warm, but through teamwork and an elevated level of play by all the players on the pitch ... but i digress.
For those of you who are with clubs that have two rosters, how to you develop players? A/B games, mixed squads, what?
I realize it's risky to write about a specific event like this, but its been bothering me, and I want to know what ya'll think. No disrespect intended to anyone, but its a valuable, if sensitive topic, so POST AWAY. Please, productive posts only.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I received this in my inbox this morning ...
My players are asking for more help with the lineout, and they have correctly identified the fact that our biggest weakness is getting the jumper into the air quickly. Are there any good drills for this? Today I just had two pods going up and competing for the ball, neither was designated ''offense'' and they just had to go on the thrower. I'm just curious to know if anyone has any other ideas for working on this skill.
There are alot things at play here ... are you lifting legs or shorts? Are the jumpers moving or static? Going straight up or into the tunnel? Either way, getting into the air fast is a matter of the lifters reacting to the jumper, and minimizing all the extranous stuff at the actual jump (cadences, steps, delays in binding, etc).
As to timing, if we time things off the thrower, both teams get to initiate their actions at the same time, and neither team will get an appreciable advantage.
I like to use very dynamic lineouts and put everything in the hands of the jumpers. The lifters then have only one task .. lift, or don't lift. As to the mechanics - each jumper is a little different and I like to let them be. I don't personally believe in any kind of cadence at all for jumpers and lifters - again, its all about the jumper moving quickly and the lifters reacting. This is JUST my opinion, I've seen some static lineouts where the jumpers get up fast, its just not my personal preference.
So - if you want to develop speed, make your games/drills about speed. Instead of the "winner" being the one who has the ball, the "winner" can be the fastest unit. Here is a sample format.
Set up a line of 6 cones 5 meters apart. Set up as many of these in parallel as you have lifter/thrower groups. It's a race.
Throwers all start on the first cone, jumping pods on the second. On "GO" the group has to execute a lineout. When the ball is successfully caught in the air, the jumper passes it back the the thrower, and the whole unit moves to the next cone. When they hit the last cone, they now come forward, repeating the process. If the lineout is not successful, the group has to stay on the cone until they get it right. At the end of it every group will have executed at least 10 lineouts, under stress, and the winner will be the fastest group.
There are a million variations on this format, and many other lineout games that can be used to develop this speed and the decision making skills that go along with it.
As to off the pitch, your lifters and jumpers should be doing olypmic style lifts - push presses, cleans, jump squats, etc. This will get them faster and more explosive for the lineout tasks.
Great topic Deanna - lets see what everyone else has to say!
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sorry I've been out of touch for so long - both work and rugby have escalated and it seems theres hardly a free moment to breath.
As everyone's seasons are now ramping up it seems a good time to discuss match prep.
Like probably 99% of coaches on the planet (at least here in the states), "four corners" was always part of my teams warm up. I'm working with a new group of players, and the night before our first match as I was penciling in our warm up schedule, i realized that I have never run "four corners" with this particular group. I'd been operating under that axiom that "four corners" is match prep because you can do lots of different things, and everyone works together.
But seriously, is it really match prep? I mean, I'd never even run four corners in TRAINING, so why in the world would i even consider doing it before a game? Pre-match time is at a premium. We need to manage players confidence levels, let them warm but not hot, get them aroused but controlled.
So instead of four corners we used a continuous 3 v 2 game with very light contact. The results were marvelous! The decision making gates seemed to open wide, and it became clear as day to me that pregame isn't just about warming up bodies, it's about warming up minds, warming up communication channels.
What sorts of different things does everyone do pregame? How long do you warm up? I've seen teams practically scrimmaging as warmup, is that a good idea or not? How about varying warmups - is it safe to do different things based on the teams needs, or, is your teaching pedagogy that we always do the same thing for warmups, to get everyone in a common frame of mind?
Please share your opinions. It might be fun at a big tournament to go sit up on top of the camera man's scaffollding and get a birds eye view of all the different teams warmiups, see what they do the same, see what they do different. Better yet, see if there's a connection between how a team warms up and how they play.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Just a quick update from the UK - my new job it turns out, is very challenging, and as a result I just haven't had time to blog. But this weekend couldn't pass without a brief note.
Saturday I went to Dublin for the 6 Nations game between Ireland and England. It was played in Croke park, which BTW is not normally a rugby venue, but a Gaelic venue. There's alot of politics surrounding the whole thing, and basically, England had never before played in Croke park. The Irish were pumped. Long story short, they destroyed England, and it was BRILLIANT.
These guys were wandering around the city before the match:
On Sunday I went for a drive up the northern coast of Ireland. The country side is spectacular, and if you look close enough, you can see rugby pitches tucked all over the hillside. Look hard, and you'll see it.
|You might need to look at the full size image to see the pitch|
Friday, February 16, 2007
1. Ohmygod! Its Legally Blonde, the Musical. For serious!
2. I'm leaving for Northern Ireland on Sunday and I plan on watching Ireland vs England in a Belfast pub. My contact person out there is scouting around for actual tickets, but seriously, I'm thrilled to just being in the country during 6N. Go me!
Friday, February 09, 2007
Some results from the Women's International Tournament at USA 7s
USA A vs Canada A - 5-7
USA vs China 29-17
Canada vs USA A 5 -19
USA vs Canada A 14-19
China vs Canada 20-0
China vs USA A
USA vs Canada 19-5
China vs Canada A
USA vs USA A 10 - 5
Canada vs Canada A
USA A vs USA 7-22
Canada A vs China
Tommorrow's Final - USA vs Canada A (7PM PST)
Scoring Highlights for USA
Phaidra Knight - 2 Tries
Inez - 2 Tries
Jen Starkey - 5+ Tries
I'll post more info as soon as I get it!
I've recently had a request for information about the notorious "Beep Test".
If your not familiar with the Beep Test, IT SUCKS. It's a standard fitness test designed to calculate an athlete's VO2 max, the efficiency at which the body utilizes oxygen. The Beep Test is a very accurate gauge of an athletes aerobic fitness, and there is certainly an element of mental toughness as well. As stated in the instructions for the Beep Test, the athlete must continue until they are physically incapable of continuing. In other words, you're supposed to continue until you're body quits - pain, suffering, and despair must be put out of your mind to get an accurate score.
During my playing days, the Beep Test was standard at select sides. As our sport has become more sophisticated, the Beep Test itself has fallen out of favor. Flat out aerobic fitness is not nearly as important as speed endurance, recovery time, and explosiveness. As such, many coaches have gone to different tests - specifically the 150 meter shuttle, the T-test, and of course, the 40 Yard Dash. The Canadians in addition to other things, do the Triple Jump.
With the popularity of iPods and other mp3 devices, I thought it might be worthwhile to provide the Beep Test as a downloadable file. If you're unfamiliar with the test format, it goes like this:
Set up cones 20 meters apart. Athletes start on one cone, and in tempo with the beeps, run back and forth between cones. Every minute, the tempo increases and the beeps come closer together. Athletes continue running until they cannot reach the opposite cone before the beep. Protocol says that the athlete has one chance to "catch up", but if they miss the cone twice in a row, they are done.
Scores are calculated based upon 1) the level reached, and 2) the number of repetitions. For example, 6.1 means the athlete reached level 6 (the levels are called out loud on the recording) and competed 1 shuttle (a shuttle is just "there", not "there and back"). A 14.12 would mean the athlete reached level 14 and did 12 shuttles. Typically athletes are paired up so that while one is running, the other is counting. I've seen female rugby players score anywhere from an abysmal 3.6 to a ridiculously impressive 15.8. The test goes all the way to level 23 ... YIKES!
Anyway - the Beep Test can be a useful training tool - a metronome for running, so to speak. I remember a particular program that incorporated progressive sections of the Beep Test - for example one week you might do levels 6-8 four times, and progress through the program by adding more repetitions or starting at a higher level. I remember it sucked from a 'personal suffering' perspective, but I also remember amping up my work rate and cutting bodyfat substantially.
The Beep Test - mp3 (16K). Right click to save, double click to play.
Beep .... Beep .... Beep ... BeepdiddleyBeep .... Right click to save ...
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
6th Annual Philadelphia Women's Rugby Collegiate Clinic
Sponsored by Luna Bar for Women
Philadelphia Women's Rugby is hosting our 6th Annual Collegiate Clinic on February 24th from 8:30am to 12pm at the Temple University Student Pavillion . Please share this information with your teams as we would love to have as many players as possible. It is a great time to gear up for the spring season and work on developing new skills with experienced players. Below please find the details of the clinic. Feel free to email Angie Marfisi at email@example.com with questions. Please note that this year the clinic will be indoors, so please wear sneakers.
**Please pre-register as soon as possible by email Eileen Horgan at firstname.lastname@example.org****
Philadelphia Women's Rugby Collegiate Clinic
Saturday, February 24th 9am to 12pm
Regristration begins at 8:30
Temple University Student Pavillion
Topics and Schedule
- Decision Making in Contact
- Decision Making in the Open Field
- Rebuilding the Defense from the Breakdown
9:30-10:05am Session 1
10:08-10:43 Session 2
10:46-11:21 Session 3
11:21-11:24 All groups gather on Courts 1&2
11:24-11:45am Elective Session
Players choose from:
- Agility and Pylometrics for Rugby
- Forward Q & A
- Spin Pass ? Whats that?
- Backline Q & A