When it comes to playing and coaching rugby, on any level, whether it is college rugby or professional rugby, your rugby IQ, your decision making, is more important than anything. Learning the game of rugby and perfecting your decision making ability for any situation and under all circumstances is a never ending process. While ball handling drills and physical training are very important, right behind your understanding of the game.
West Virginia University Rugby Alumn Owen McAteer breaks down one of the biggest keys to becoming a better rugby player. Owen was West Virgnia's scrummie, but he breaks down how all positions can take their game to another level. Taking the time and analyzing rugby footage is key. But, you have to know what to look for and why you are looking.
Owen explains, "The best rugby teams are the smartest rugby teams." For the ultimate team game, for a game rich in strategy and mental toughness, your rugby team is only as good as your weakest link. Playing rugby and coaching rugby demand a lot out of you. Whether you are playing college rugby, or professional rugby, getting better at the game is more than just your rugby workouts.
Rugby Video Transcription: There’s two guys , if you were to consider who is a quarterback (American Football) on a rugby team. There’s my position and the fly half, the guy that I direct for the backs. When I was first moved to this position, I went over tons of video, just looking at it, judging and seeing where my position was, seeing what he was doing when plays breakdown. So like, just watching the video helped me to understand where I needed to be at certain times and then taking that and putting it on the field and seeing it work in practice definitely helped and it definitely made me more conscious of my surroundings and I didn’t rush into plays as fast as I used to. I didn't make rash judgments and learned how to pass the ball out. I really try to slow the game down.
As far as watching it, watching and keeping things focused, watching the team watching the defense, the setup, seeing if the defense was slow to get back and form a line. Was the defense slow forming the backing from the line, because that means that I can kick the ball out to the backs and they could in fact spin the ball all the way down to the ends, we’re going to have a lot of wide-open space. Or maybe their pack or maybe our pack is stronger than their pack so I continue to punch the ball just like you're running back type play, I'm just dishing the ball out to the pack guys, they're hitting the online stride and really just kind of moving, even if it is just 3 or 4 m at a time but there just consistently moving the ball forward and I set it up I try to draw more defenders closer and closer to accommodate the needs of that, if we are hitting them hard with the pack and after having to pull defenders over to accommodate the lack of defense, then that’s going to leave some openings in the backs and they’re going to start opening somewhere and hitting the back often more more more than I kick it out to the backs as soon as they get open and a nice wide-open space.
So you have to swerve just read rugby defenses, and you have to read how things are going. It is not going to happen on the first play, it is not to be where you can throw a 60 yard strike just because I'm not expecting it. It's just that you have to make these reads throughout the game, and start to see where they start to slow down, if they're getting tired, who’s getting tired first. Is it they’re pack getting tired first, or is their backs getting worn out, are their backs getting tired, are we kicking a lot or are they kicking a lot are they retreating or are we always retreating and making them sprint forward. So you have to really focus on reading that defense, reading where your team and how your team is adjusting to that rugby defends, and make that decision from there as far as distributing the ball. And that is just my position. That is what I should be looking at for my position, but otherwise different players you look at different things. Pack players will be looking as far as hitting all the weak players, guys that can tackle well. But move forward and attack them.
The pack players will do the same thing, looking for the guy who doesn't tackle looking for the guy who cheats overloaded too much on the side, so that they can squeeze in those gaps so they can move and find openings find open space. So that is basically how watching the video watching the film was a huge, huge impact, where I could watch how professional rugby players do it and see how rugby should be played, and then imitated and mimicked it in the way that I played. When you look at a really good rugby player, I look at that player and what he does and then I rewind it, if it's a video I take it back and I rewind it, and I look at the rugby defense and see why he did that and why he passes out to the wings, or why you passed to the inside guy, maybe the setting something up. A lot of times he just dishes the guy out to just the pack player, and you know and the pack player goes directly into contact, and you're thinking why, why did he do that, why did he try to get it to that open space every single time, but what a good rugby player does is sets up the next play, the next phase of play, it's not so much about trying to that hole every single time, and squeeze through the gap we have those long 10 and 20 m runs and just losing your support, but instead stay in close contact and moving together and moving the ball as a team, it's not so much that, you're not trying to be the good guy that gets into the open every time, but you are trying to do it as a rugby unit, as a whole, which is why this is such a huge team sport, because we as rugby players cannot do this alone. A lot of times, people think of rugby in the football aspect, but football you tackle in the play is over. However, in rugby when you tackle the play continues and so we as rugby players have to protect that ball and continuously move as a unit, if you outrun your support and your and I can have a lot of options as far as where you go when you're going to turn the ball over and I assure you that it is just a matter of time.
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