I managed somehow to miss last Sunday's training session although I did give Pal my observation from the match I watched:
Rugby Key Points for Sabotny.
Basic observation from match Saturday 18th Sept:
Commitment, enthusiasm, fraternity, courage are all EXCELLENT. That is a huge advantage over many teams,
Fitness is OK. We can work on it.
Your weakness is acting without thinking
·For this team, a strong team, possession is more important than progression. The opposition CANNOT score without the ball.
·You are stronger so DON'T kick the ball away to open field positions. Take the contact and control the ball in the forwards.
·IF you kick, kick to touch. Your line-out is strong and you are then organised/positioned to combat any moves.
·THINK!!!!!!! One man alone will not win a match. 3 times last week you had the ball on their 5m line and got nowhere. TALK. Either a backs move (see below*) or a back row +winger move should have scored but EVERYONE concerned needs to know what's happening.
·Same thing at penalty time. Either gain ground with a kick or EVERYONE HAS TO KNOW what's going to happen.
·*Running lines are too predictable. Vary running lines with a cut back from centre, wing or full back. Pre-arranged. It must be done at pace.
·Defence has to have a straight line. Breaking the line/charging ahead is an open invitation for them to run or pass beyond you. Then you are dead.
·Catching the ball: Fingers up. Elbows together. Face your own line. Pull the ball into your body. SUPPORT THE CATCHER.
·Running support: on both sides of the runner.
·Line out: good.
·Passing: needs more accuracy. If you can't make the pass don't try. Maul.
·In the maul use body not hands to defend or attack the ball.
Pal and Etrine picked me up at my hotel and Pal explained that the team would be starting their fitness training so we had about an hour before the coaching would start. We needed it. Once you leave Tana it is immediately apparent why it is known as the Red Island. The roads are unmade and will be impassable once the rains start next month because they are basically red dust which is choking and everywhere. The village, when we got there was fourth world. No electricity at all, water from one pump or the river, school has been closed for over a year. Pal said that he knows the villagers very well after 4 years working with them, managing the team but has yet to meet anyone who can read or write. The village is home to 800 souls, 38 of which were doing sprints on the football pitch with goals made from branches. I was introduced to a snarling Charles the fitness coach for whom everything was disgusting although to me they all looked to be putting everything they had into it, mostly out of fear of Charles. I talked with Reej the forwards' coach as he and Pal talked about what to do in your 22, fromdefensive 22 to halfway etc at which point I interrupted and advised kicking from their own 22 where Reej explained that in Tana rugby, unlike IRB, you cannot kick straight into touch from anywhere on the pitch. "Not IRB" intoned the former national prop and captain. Very glad I got that information before I opened my mouth.
Charles then brought the apparently tireless team to the middle of the field and with his foot rubbed out the pitch plan that Pal had drawn in the dirt and spent 15 minutes berating the assembled with how to play and what to do in every situation that might arise. Each time he finished making a point they all applauded. Then he looked at Pal who looked at me and I smiled and shuffled my feet a bit. So Pal said "This is David", round of applause and everyone including internationals Etrine and Reej look at me. So I started delivering pretty much my opening paragraph full of positives in stuttering French.
"Speak English David", Pal advised, "They don't understand French".
"Ah, ok", I said, "Do they understand English?"
"No, of course not!" Helpful that. But then Pal translated, supported by a very interested Reej as I talked about using body and body angles rather than hands in malls. Lots of applause.
Demonstration was forced on me when Pal said, "David, how to catch the ball" and threw the ball about 30 feet in the air. Fortunately I did catch it, with fingers up etc and facing my own try line. More applause and enthusiastic participation when I called on someone to tackle me and 2 others to support me and drive. Excellent. Definitely time to shut up.
Charles took over again and split them into backs and forwards for skills training which would have been far more productive if everyone could have touched the ball but as they only had 2 balls in the club, the match ball for 25 backs and one shaped like a basketball for 13 forwards. It made a bit of a mockery as far as skills training when you only get to touch the ball for 5 seconds every 10 minutes. I'm not sure the coaches helped themselves very much by allowing every one to take part in every drill and in the final 'game' session to play the first 15 against 23 opponents. It rather reduces the open field options. On that same subject I have to say this was definitely the first training session I have ever witnessed when the first team hooker trained from 8 30 until after 12 when we left absolutely bare-foot; no socks, no boots and on ground that was effectively concrete covered in swirling red dust. I will email some of you individually but if anyone knows where the can get hold of old/used rugby balls/shirts/socks/shorts/kicking tees/ANYTHING then I think I can get them sent out here at no cost. All you teachers(Ayliffe, Cornish etc)/ex-teachers (Keepax)/rugby club members (Roger, Brent, Bob) have a look it would make a huge difference and I could get letters of thanks, photos or whatever you might need. As I said above the players do not read or write so their chances of getting assistance is zilch yet today they put in 4 hours of training purely for the pleasure of playing rugby. Apologies if this has turned into a missionary beg but………..
Next week we play in the quarter final of the Tana Cup. Let's hope they do better than Bristol.