Blog by Ben Ryan the (former) Fijian Rugby 7s (Olympic Gold medal team) coach.

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#1
Excellent blog post from Ben Ryan. Thought I share it, on here, as it's well worth the read.

Watching international and premiership rugby and watching skill levels much lower than they should be. Pass technique varies with every pass and rarely do their hands end up pointing towards their intended target.*
Hands are rarely up ready to receive a pass unless they are actually acting as a decoy player. A movement sideways rather than forward is often the case.*
Tackle technique more about the hit than the process, again players arms at their sides in the defensive line, not up and ready to tackle, their feet too far away from the tackle and their head facing down towards the grass unable to see what’s happening.*
Breakdown skills don’t have to be very accurate as the laws help promote bash rather than accuracy.*
Read the full article


Source: BBC

[video=youtube_share;ibmw4tfmB88]https://youtu.be/ibmw4tfmB88[/video]

:shrug: To be perfectly honest, I do feel he might be overlooking the magic skills of a certain number of players. Ymmv
 

ChrisR

Player or Coach
#3
He must have been watching my team (USA).

Re. the heel "kick". This needs to be clarified in law. Like the "header", it's not a knock-on. So .... if it's legal does that make the "thigh bounce" legal? Seems like we've been here before.
 

Camquin

Rugby Club Member
#4
He had possession, the ball went forward, it was not a kick and it was deliberate.
So penalty against with a yellow card for being too clever.

But the blog is not about the skills of the few - but the poor skills of the many.
We should not have have professional players who can bench press twice their weight, but cannot consistently give or take a pass.

All players should know to run with hands up ready for a pass. They should have been taught that in their first season of mini or youth rugby. Props might spend more time on scrum work, but even they should know how to take and give a pass. They will not have a kick like a ten, but should be able to put in a little grubber for a back to run onto - and know when to do so rather than take contact.
 

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#5
...

But the blog is not about the skills of the few - but the poor skills of the many.
We should not have have professional players who can bench press twice their weight, but cannot consistently give or take a pass.
....
Hi, Spot on his posting is about how skill levels in Union haven't evolved over the past 40 years.
My point being, there are more and more iconic players with the skills of Waisale "Small" Serevi. Surely Ben Ryan was well placed to appreciate this fact. The carrying skills of the tight five, may not be up to playing Sevens, but the general skill level in professional rugby is way above that of the games we watched in 1977.
 

SimonSmith

, Referees in America, Rank Bajin!
#6
I'm more convinced by Ryan than by your statement if I'm honest.

It's a bi of a mistake to lump all of Union in one basket. I think the approach to skills vs physical differs across the globe. I'm not sure the quality of passing has improved, and I think a lot of places still lag behind Rugby League in accuracy and speed of passing.

Kicking, obviously, has improved. How much of that is allied to the changes and improvements in balls as opposed to skill is open to debate - probably a bit of both.

Hookers can't hook any more. A lot of props seem not able to actually scrummage legally.

A number of scrum halves can't pass off the floor without walking a couple of steps - has anyone watched Mike Phillips ever pass off the deck? No. Because he can't.
 

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#7
We may be talking at cross purposes, you refer to poor technique, I was talking about comparing skills levels.
In any debate I guess it's important to be clear about the terms being used.

Firstly
the distinction between technique and skill needs to be made. Technique in this case may be considered the execution of a set of co-ordinated movement patterns, whereas skill is the proficiency of execution of the correct actions determined by the demand of the situation
*For the purpose of this paper, the term skill assessment will be used.

*Gabbett, T.J., Physiological Characteristics of Junior and Senior Rugby League Players, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2002, 36(5), 334–339. 


but also bear in mind
it should be acknowledged that executing a skill within a Rugby match situation is complex and demands physical ability, technical efficiency, and tactical awareness. With this in mind, attempting to capture the full demand set for executing a skill within a Rugby match remains difficult.
** Hendricks, S., Roode, B., Matthews, B. and Lambert, M., Defensive Strategies in Rugby Union, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2013, 117(1), 65–87.
.

I am not sure it is possible to compare the skills of the likes of Mike Gibson with those of Brian O' Driscoll. In terms of match fitness and tactical awareness, surely 40 years ago players came together for 4 weeks in the year. Compare that to the present day professional player who only gets 4 weeks away from rugby each year.
Poorer technique I would say that must be debatable too.
 
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L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#8
I feel he is being subjective, But I suppose the problem is any comparison tends to be subjective.
So when in doubt specify. Look at this specific comparison - New Zealanders have been consistently the most skillful rugby players, because it's the national sport, played over there from a very young age. Even way back when...

Consider Christy Cantillon's try against New Zealand - October 1978 in front of 12,000 people. Touring side against Irish provincial team.
(Quote: "There were very few lineout variations in those days.") or to put it another way there are much more techniques to chose from these days...

Irish international Robbie Henshaw's try against New Zealand - November 2016 in front of 62,300 people.
The intensity and pace of the game today, means there is so little time or space.
The skills levels are (have to be) so much better today.
Perhaps the most obvious weakness in his argument, (since he refers specifically to international and premiership rugby skill levels) is that Premiership rugby had only started 30 years ago; so from zero the improvement in skill levels has to be 100% there. The Munster Rugby Academy was set up in 2006, so such structures for improving skill sets didn't exist 30 years ago either. His criticism is blatantly misplaced, sorry. Cannot help wondering if Ben isn't a little sore about being overlooked for the Lions coaching role.
 

DocY

Rugby Club Member
#9
I'm inclined to agree with him - not about the lack of change in skills, but the difference between rugby and other sports.

I think a lot of it's down to expectations. You get a prop turning up at outside centre who needs to throw a 15m pass to the winger outside him and "well... he's a prop, so you wouldn't expect him to manage that". That feels, to me (at least in semi serious rugby) the equivalent of saying "well... he was a batsman" when a cricketer drops a catch.

To use the cricket analogy again. How long do cricketers spend in the nets? Hours. To ensure that every ball is thrown just so and you aren't going to screw up by holding it in the wrong way, or changing your run up. The only area of rugby where I perceive the same level of detail is kicking (and, perhaps, throwing it), but for core skills, needed by every player, there isn't that much of it - just lots of the more specialised actions.

Mike Ruddock found this when he started coaching Wales. A lot of their training was simple handling drills.
 

Christy

<img src="http://www.rugbyrefs.com/flags/ireland.p
#10
http://laws.worldrugby.org/?domain=2

Kick: A kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, from the toe to the knee but not including the knee; a kick must move the ball a visible distance out of the hand, or along the ground.
isnt the law excluding the heel for a penalty & free kick only .
as worded in law below in relation to a free kick or penalty kick only .

are we saying , that if we see kick over head , from a self pass back to a players heel is not allowed . ??



[FONT=fs_blakeregular]21.3 How the penalty and free kicks are taken[/FONT]
[FONT=fs_blakeregular](a)

Any player may take a penalty or free kick awarded for an infringement with any type of kick: punt, drop kick or place kick. The ball may be kicked with any part of the lower leg from knee to the foot, excluding the knee and the heel.

[/FONT]
 

OB..

, Advises in England
#11
isnt the law excluding the heel for a penalty & free kick only .
as worded in law below in relation to a free kick or penalty kick only .

are we saying , that if we see kick over head , from a self pass back to a players heel is not allowed . ??



[FONT=fs_blakeregular]21.3 How the penalty and free kicks are taken[/FONT]
[FONT=fs_blakeregular](a)

Any player may take a penalty or free kick awarded for an infringement with any type of kick: punt, drop kick or place kick. The ball may be kicked with any part of the lower leg from knee to the foot, excluding the knee and the heel.

[/FONT]
From p6 in the Definitions section
Kick: [FONT=fs_blakeregular]A kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, from the toe to the knee but not including the knee; a kick must move the ball a visible distance out of the hand, or along the ground.[/FONT]

Where a kick is required, this definition applies, so touching the boot with the ball is not a valid way of taking a PK.

However in open play the only question is whether or not the play contravenes Law 12. It doesn't. That law only applies if the ball goes forward off a hand or arm.
 

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#12
I tend to agree with OB.. in open play I don't think the heel kick would be penalized. BOD has gotten away with worse in match situations.


A little more blurb on skills assessments, be it yesteryear, today and in the future :

For validity, referring to the appropriate scientific and coaching literature on the technical movements of the skill, and consensus among sport scientists, administrators, and coaches on the criteria serves as a good starting point. Because of the subjectivity in the measurement, the knowledge and experience of the person conducting the test may affect the reliability of the measurement. The subjectivity of the measurement can be reduced, however, by training the person on how to use the criteria and assess the skill. This same approach can be applied to measuring the skill outcome. Both offensive and defensive skill(s) need to be tested, and the skills should apply to all all positions.

For Rugby, the tackle technique assessment, draw and pass assessment and the reactive agility and carrying the ball into contact course seem appropriate. Furthermore, the ability to clear a ruck in Rugby Union is a skill required by all players, and to effectively clear a ruck contributes to the success of a team ***


*** Ortega, E., Villarejo, D. and Palao, J.M., Differences in Game Statistics Between Winning and Losing Rugby Teams in the Six Nations Tournament, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2009, 8(4), 523–527.



Source: on-line Study
 

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#14
I notice that Brian O'Driscoll's video has been online since March 2015, while that clip was put up end of December 2016. Only saying..

On the subject of skills levels worsening over the years. There exists a wealth of training sessions photos of both the Irish camp and the Provincial setup. All players have their hands up to receive the ball. (Contrary to Ben's accusations) I suggest that in a match situation many skilled players may choose not to use this technique in order not to "telegraph" their intentions to the opposition. So the absence of good technique observed by Ben in matches may actually be proof positive of improved skills in the game, as it shows greater tactical awareness today.

I take it nobody is disputing the fact, that modern players have much better levels of physical fitness than their amateur counterparts had 30, or 40 years ago. Most Irish Internationals (perhaps I mean the forwards) struggled after 50 minutes of play back in 1977. Last November at 83 minutes on the match clock against NZ there was still a lot of gizz in the squad.
 
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Rushforth

<img src="http://www.rugbyrefs.com/flags/holland.p
#15
I notice that Brian O'Driscoll's video has been online since March 2015, while that clip was put up end of December 2016. Only saying..
I would not have been aware of the clip I linked to if it hadn't been posted on the wall of somebody - also now a referee - that actually did the dirty deed against Georgia, probably about 20 years before BOD made a video in his post-career on the training field.

Also, is gizz the same as jizz, or does it have more Guiness?
 

L'irlandais

, Promises to Referee in France
#16
Jizz it is then, the joys of having a French spell-checker. :redface:

You'd have to ask a team nutritionalist about what Pro players are, and are not allowed in their diet. The Ireland setup allow a post match Guinness appearantly, Not sure if that's what got them jizzed up though.
 

didds

, Resident Club Coach
#19
maybe skills have maxxed out.

In the same manner that there must surely come a day when the 100m sprint can never be done in a faster time.

etc

?

(philosophical point)

didds