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39 Weeks of non-stop rugby

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :All Blacks, Currie Cup, Original Content, Springboks, Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship on 1 Nov 2012 at 10:30
Tagged with : , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer, in interviews this week, has expressed his frustration at mismanagement of players that have been overplayed in this long season, leaving him with injuries to key players and a bunch of overplayed and exhausted players in his training group. Meyer feels that we should be looking to New Zealand for tips in this area saying: “I think the one team that gets it right in the world is the All Blacks”

Just one thing – Does New Zealand players really play that much less rugby than our players do? Their All Blacks don’t get involved in the ITM CUP, but that mounts up to just about 3 more games for most of the Springbok players. So how exactly does New Zealand get it right, unless I’m missing something, which I am completely willing to concede if someone can point it out to me?

The problem is the yearly expansion on Super Rugby… or is it Super 16 already?

I can’t see that any of the countries involved in Super Rugby have been managing the growing work load on the players particularly well. If they’re ready, the player has to play and according to most coaches and players, ready means the player feels he is okay to play, even when the medical staff has pointed out a few ‘niggles’.

There is no pre-prescribed idea of how coaches will manage players. Not the coaches that I have spoken to and not according to any of the interviews I have read. The consensus seems to be that the players know their bodies and know what their bodies can take. What?!

With the Super Rugby/England Tour/ Super Rugby/ Rugby Champion – Currie Cup/ EOYT season stretching all of 39 weeks, which includes exactly one week off (for those that has made it into finals), you would think that coaches would put some emphasis on a set conditioning plan that included giving every player breaks every now and then, not just to rest their bodies, but also build up their strength.

I haven’t yet seen a coach that does not go by the ‘When they get injured – they’ll get to rest’ way of thinking. It’s nice of Meyer to point to New Zealand as the leaders in this area, but please point to the player that was actually given a break to recondition, not rehabilitate, but recondition.

If we look at this end of year tour for all the teams involved in Super Rugby, who are the ones that were not overplayed and will go on this tour refreshed? JP Pietersen? Why? Jaco Taute, Duane Vermeulen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Drew Mitchell, David Pockock, Kieran Read, Conrad Smith, Daniel Carter. What do all these players have in common? They are all just coming back from an extensive injury or had a lengthy injury layoff at some point during this 38 week season.

National coaches fortunately had their players for 8 weeks during the Rugby Championship during which there would have been a few of the 30 men in their squads that was not used as extensively and with the few “lucky” players that was injured at some point this year, will now be refreshed. The one thing these coaches can to do show that they are all in, in preserving their countries’ top players, would be to use the players that are usually only seen as extras. For the Springboks these players include Patrick Lambie, Juan de Jongh, Juandre Kruger…

This might be the best excuse for a 44% success rate coach yet, but even so, Heyneke Meyer has a point here. If we’re going to keep expanding rugby tournaments, (which I don’t think we should, as it threatens the quality and integrity of the tournament, but that’s a discussion for another day), provincial coaches need to become more professional in their approach to player management and conditioning.


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