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Author: Bruce Ross
Over the past few decades the body weight of international rugby players has been consistently increasing. In the main such increases have occurred gradually, a reflection of improvements in resistance training and nutrition that have enabled hypertrophy gains without sacrificing speed and mobility. A comparatively recent development, however, seems to be a deliberate preference for the use of very heavy players in the backline, most notably in the inside centre position. This would appear to reflect a fundamental rethinking of the role of the 12. Consider the following table showing the body weights of midfielders used by major countries in…
I wonder how many people watching the 2010 Sydney Premiership Club Grand Final realised they were seeing a classic demonstration of a profoundly revolutionary style of play that I have termed “physical imposition rugby”. The clash of Australia’s two most historic and successful clubs saw Sydney University triumph by 46 points to six; five tries to nil; and seven goals to two. Both sides were weakened by injuries the previous week, Randwick losing five players and University two. Game strategies based around physical domination are nothing new in rugby, but where the Sydney University style is innovatory is that it…
A characteristic of the Deans era Wallabies is their seeming inability to sustain their performance over the full 80 minutes of a game. This raises the question of whether their training methods are appropriate for the intense physical demands of modern international rugby. In short, is there enough emphasis on strength training? It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from the team’s patchy performances in the June Tests as quality of the opposition and the effects of long distance travel were complicating factors. A more valid measure is how the team has performed against its closest neighbour. In contests…
A number of unexpected results have compressed the Super 14 points table but probably reduced the potential semi-finallists to eight teams. The Australian media has focussed on the fact that the Waratahs are nominally top of the table, but they are there on sufferance as a consequence of not yet having had a bye. The real situation becomes clear after adjusting team points by adding four points for the bye. With this correction the current table becomes:
The Super 14 has now passed the halfway point with six weeks remaining before the finals series. The points table presents a somewhat confusing picture, with some teams having played seven games and the others, having had a bye, only six. The situation becomes somewhat clearer if team totals are adjusted by allowing four points for the bye. With this correction the current table becomes:
The Marseille game between France and the All Blacks was a wonderful display of purposeful ball-in-hand rugby and a clear demonstration of the importance of physical dominance in the backs. There was limited but very judicious kicking and a notable absence of the cut-out pass. Players on both sides were prepared to engage tacklers before off-loading. In the backs the French were outweighed by nearly 7kg per man, putting them at a serious disadvantage in what developed into an intense, fast-paced physical contest. After 20 minutes
For many rugby aficionados the sevens version of the game is deeply unsatisfying; a skim milk, decaffeinated, lukewarm concoction. At the same time there are aspects of the fifteen-a-side game that currently make it a very boring spectacle; in particular the time wasting and over-emphasis on kicking. What I want to propose is a shortened form of the game designed for knockout carnivals which would retain most of the elements that make rugby so distinctive.
The Australian rugby coach and his selectors appear to be following a quite deliberate policy of favouring emerging players over those with significant international playing experience. One consequence of this is that the Australian Super 14 franchises are being denuded of senior players who traditionally mentor and guide those who are just learning their craft. In the Test against Ireland, the Wallabies do not have a single player aged 30 or more in their starting fifteen. Their opponents have eight, a majority of the team! The average age of our 22-man squad is 25.2 years; theirs is 27.5. Our oldest…
The Tokyo Bledisloe match featured the clash of two backlines who basically can’t tackle to save themselves. Both the Wallabies and All Blacks backs fall off one in four tackles they attempt. Let’s look at the Wallabies first, using calculations derived from 2009 Super 14 stats compiled by Verusco Technologies. The first figure is the average number of tackles made per 80 minutes played, and the figure in brackets is the percentage of missed tackles:
When SANZAR introduced a number of Experimental Law Variations for the 2008 season, supporters were led to believe they would make rugby faster and more exciting to watch. “We’re introducing the new laws to Super 14 to super-charge Super rugby,” ARU deputy CEO Matt Carroll gushed at the time.