As brought to you from yourscrumhalfconnection, these videos are just TOO GOOD for one blog...
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As brought to you from yourscrumhalfconnection, these videos are just TOO GOOD for one blog...
Friday, June 20, 2008
Got a few more clips for this one. Tries are first, followed by some other memorable sequences.
Try #1 v Midwest U23. Off a driving lineout, Katy Black( prop, Westchester) peels off the back and is shut down just short of the tryzone. Kara Bodison (lock, PSU) is in support, picks, and dives in for the try.
Try #2 v Midwest U23. Kate Daley (#8, PSU) picks off the back of a solid scrum and dashs strong for the try.
Try #3 v Midwest U23. Kate Daley (#8, PSU) picks off the back of a solid scrum and dashs weak for the try.
Try # 4 v Midwest U23. From a scrum, the backs run a blind side attack using Danielle Monica (Temple). She is well defended, but in the follow up forward attack sequence, after several phases, Blythe Hagan (Lock, Brandywine) dives in for the score.
Try #5 v Midwest U23. Midwest lose the ball in their own end, and MARFU move it sketchily through the hands. Moira Somerdky (center, Temple) powers through the defenders and touches down for the final try of the game.
Scrum tackle tackle poach kick catch run
A Midwest driving lineout is foiled
COLLISION: Moira vs Schmarrah
A nice kick reception sequence
I've only got a few done from this match (really just the tries), but I'll add more later ... There were some terrific tackles in this match that I'd love to share, and of course the whole swinging a tackled player into the ref thing ...
Try #1 v Pacific U23. Pacific launches a powerful forward attack out of their own end, looking to clear. The clearing kick is blocked, MARFU gains possession, and the ball is transfered through Alison Wormans hands (flanker, PSU) to Megan Newton (fullback, JMU) who stiffarms two defenders to score the try.
Try #2 v Pacific U23. Julia Swavola (flanker, JMU) poaches in her own end, pitches to Kara Bodison (lock, PSU) who pins the first defender and put's Steph (wing, Westchester) away for a 90 meter try.
Try #3 v Pacific U23. Annie Ziegler (Scrumhalf, PSU) moves the ball to Megan Newton (flyhalf, JMU), who moves the ball to Natalie Monroig (Fullback, Shippensburg) who slices through the defense to score with Danielle Monica (Wing, Temple) in support.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
So this weekend I was privileged to be with the MARFU U23 team as they won their second straight National All Star Championship title. I'll write a bit more about that later, as well as post some videos, but my immediate thoughts are around the issue of rest and recovery while in competition.
The heat in Pittsburgh was oppressive. It was hot, it was humid, and we trained and played in the hottest parts of the day. After a less than optimal performance on Friday (we played well in our system and made smart decisions about space, but our defense left quite a bit to be desired), the coaching staff and I made a consious desision to NOT practice on Saturday.
Thing is, if we had practiced, we certainly would have been able to tighten some things up - especially our defensive alignment. Without a doubt, playing the Midwest, improvement in all phases of our defense was critical. But it was sooo, sooo hot, and we'd been pushing everyone pretty hard.
So we made a choice. We did a pool recovery session, and watched a bit of video, then gave the girls the afternoon off. The game plan and patterns we put in place required mental acuity and group decision making, so we wanted everyone to be fresh and rested, body and mind, when we kicked off. One or even two practices Saturday wasn't going to get us in that state. When players are physically and mentally tired, the often make poor decisions and are vulnerable to injury (the same could be said for coaches who don't take time to decompress!). When players are fresh and sharp, I believe they play better rugby, communicate better with each other, and they can problem solve on the fly.
On Sunday our turnovers were reduced, our ball presentation was much improved, our speed across the tunnel better, our clearance of defenders from the rucks was quicker, but mostly our defensive pressure and decision making was radically different from Friday. Granted, we went out early Sunday and walked through roles on defense, but we didn't really run anything at pace.
This is the second year we opted not to train on Saturday, and thus far I've learned that if you take care of the athletes and give them rest and recovery, they take care of the ball and make good decisions on the pitch.
Any thoughts on rest and recovery? I know a lot of the teams in Pittsburgh trained on Saturday, and at least a couple of the programs trained twice. What's been your experience with training/not training in these sorts of events, or training the day before "the big game"? I know the NRU senior side trained on saturday, and they came away with an impressive victory so arguments can be made for either strategy.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
The implentation of the ELVs will be here before we know it - August 1 to be specific. Since they effect EVERYONE - 7s, 15s, u19, etc - I thought it would be interesting to discuss them in detail, in sequence, and talk about how they may impact us at the grass roots level, and see if we can have some Q&A, now, before all the changes happened. An excerpt from the IRB ELV Guide is first, with my commentary below. Feel free to join the discussion!
[ ------ Begin IRB Excerpt ----- ]
Experimental Law Variation 1 Law 6 - Match Officials
Assistant referees are able to assist the referee in any way that the referee requires.
What this means for the Game
When appointed by a match organizer, e.g. a Rugby Union, SANZAR, ERC, etc., qualified touch judges will be known as assistant referees and can, at the discretion of the referee, be assigned additional responsibilities.
This Experimental Law Variation is designed to allow assistant referees to provide additional information to the referee to assist in decision making.
Law text: Law 6 MATCH OFFICIALS
Every match is under the control of match officials who consist of the referee and two touch judges or assistant referees. Additional persons, as authorized by the match organizers, may include the referee, reserve touch judge and/or assistant referee, an official to assist the referee in making decisions by using technological devices, the time keeper, the match doctor, the team doctors, the non-playing members of the teams and the ball persons.
A touch judge may be appointed by a match organizer or a team involved in a match and is responsible for signaling, touch, touch-in-goal and the success or otherwise of kicks at goal. An assistant referee may be appointed by a match organizer and is kesponsible for signaling, touch, touch-in-goal, the success or otherwise of kicks at goal and indicating foul play. An assistant referee will also provide assistance to the referee in the performance of any of the referee’s duties as directed by the referee.
[ ------ End IRB Excerpt ----- ]
Opinions, projections, and speculation
So basically what this law is saying is, if the Touch Judge is "qualified", he or she may be designated as an "Assistant Referee". Well, this kind of happens, now, certainly at Nationals, at Test matches, and and some LAU/TU championship games, and at National All Star Championship venues. It sort of sounds like this is simply formalizing the role of "qualified" touch judges as bone fide assistant referees.
What does "qualified" mean? Does it mean that the individual has completed a formal Touch Judge certification course, or do you need to complete a Referee certification course?
And who, for our purposes on the ground, in our routine matches, is the Match organizer? Ref society? LAUs? Agreement between match secretaries? In most of the matches I'm involved with, there's a ref, and each team contributes a touch judge. Often times that person is a replacement player, an injured player, a friend of the team, alumni, or a coach. Sometimes (seldom) that individual is a certified ref, but they are almost NEVER a neutral party with no interest in the outcome.
The language here - "A touch judge may be appointed by a match organizer or a team involved in a match and is responsible for signaling, touch, touch-in-goal and the success or otherwise of kicks at goal" indicated to me that we are formalizing the varying role of "touch judge" vs "assistant ref". A "touch judge" gets to weigh in on the stuff they've been weighing in on forever (touch & kicks), and an "assistant referee" gets to weigh in on the stuff the touch judge does, PLUS specifically FOUL PLAY, plus specifically anything else the Referee tells them to weigh in on.
I'm personally just fine with this, it seems like it's mostly about role delineation, though I don't expect we're going to see assistant referees outside of championship matches for a while, we just don't have the resources. As the rule reads, "match organizers" assign assistant referees, "match organizers or teams" assign touch judges. Works for me.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
This past weekend our MARFU U23 pool players met up with the MARFU senior players and the NRU seniors player in Phoenixville, PA, as the last preparation for the 2008 NASCs.
Circumstances have arisen that make this a great opportunity for our territory - for one thing, Pittsburgh is hosting this year, meaning, for the first time in my whole rugby career, I don't have to get on a plane to go to NASCs.
Since our territory is hosting (of course some Pittsburg teams identify with the Midwest, others with MARFU), we got some bonus opportunities.
MARFU Seniors are fielding not one, but two sides this year, in order to fill the vacant 8th seed. In years way past the USA U23s filled that slot - in recent years past it was the Canada U23s, and last year the Minnesota selects. MARFU II (as we refer to this group of players) have been preparing along with MARFU I, so I think it will be a great experience.
On the U23 side, the 8th seed has previously been filled by the USA U19s (now U20s). But, the U20s are touring South Africa this summer, and won't be available for NASCs.
To fill this spot, USA Rugby asked us to help coordinate a territorial development team. Teams can roster up to 28 players at NASCs, but typically not all those players get a chance to compete, and coaches often identify a smaller primary team and several alternates. This year, all those players will get a chance to play together in Tier II and practice together as part of this territorial development team. I'm excited to see SO MANY athlete's get a chance to play this year.
So anyway - last weekend we all circled up in Phoenixville PA. All the programs came out early to do some prep training. For MARFU U23 (and NRU Seniors), this was the final step in the selection process. We went over set pieces and team pattern play during the morning, and after a brief lunch break/rain delay, the matches began.
We didn't get to see much of the MARFU/NRU game, but i know the NRU came out on top despite some strong individual performances and solid scrummaging by MARFU.
The remaining teams played a 40 minute round robin format, with MARFU U23 vs MARFU II, MARFU II vs NRU, and MARFU U23 vs NRU. The MARFU U23 v MARFU II game was very, very competitive (5-5), and both team's were able to identify areas for improvement going into NASCs. I didn't get to see the MARFU II/NRU game (7-5), as we were prepping our second group of players. For the last 40 minute period MARFU U23 played NRU, as both coaches were looking to flesh out their final selections.
MARFU U23 got our asses kicked (7ish tries?), by the NRU, but I must say it was an honor and a privilege to play against some of the more experienced NRU players - our girls definitely have a view of what higher level rugby is about, as well as a sense of how seriously investing time in agility, weight training, and skill development can build you into a world class/world cup level player. Though we were outmatched through experience & age, there were definitely some strong performances by the MARFU U23 players, and we know what we need to work on going into Pittsburgh this year.
If you're interested in the final selections for MARFU U23, visit the team blog at http://marfu-u23s.blogspot.com .
Congrats to everyone and thanks to both MARFU Seniors and NRU for the fantastic competition.