Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fear Replaced by Fear.

I am hoping to channal my inner Castro.

My love of rugby is returning to its previously extreme state, for two reasons. One I am really, really ready to play. I don’t think I can remember a time when I felt more confident and more ready than I do now. I have sat back; I have watched; I have commented; I have opinionated. All that has done is made me want to take my place on the field. For the first time in an awful long time, my nagging doubts have been lifted and my confidence restored. I don’t want to beat around the bush, this isn’t a confidence based on a belief I am the best player in the world. It is however based on a realistic belief I can counter any of the challenges I am likely to face at the level I am intending to play.

In fact all my previous fears have been blown away. My fear of my knee is replaced with a belief in its strength. My trepidation around the scrum has been replaced with a belief that I can hold my own. The biggest problem, my fear of contact in the loose and a real desire to avoid it, has been replaced with a real passion to smash someone in a tackle. I don’t care how they come, head on, from the side, through the ruck or round the gate. I just want to knock someone backwards. Only one fear has replaced all these others, it is a new feeling it is one of letting down the people I am playing with. I never really thought about it much in the past. I just went out and did what I could do. Now I want to do what is best for the people I am taking to the field with. I have watched quality performances this season. Real performances of pride, and watched all the teams develop enormously. It feels like a privilege to play with them so I am going to relish it. I am under no illusions that it won’t hurt and I will be struggling like never before with match fitness but I hope when the final whistle blows I will have contributed something positive to the people around me.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Losing Lessons.


 Clive Woodward said, when you lose you go to the pub get drunk and forget about the game. Then you come back and examine it but try not to put too much emphasis on it. When you win he said, that was the time to break the game to pieces and see what it is you did right and what you did well.

Much as his record speaks for itself I am not sure I agree completely. I think from losses you find out how much heart and desire people have to go that extra mile to win. You don’t learn much from hammering teams week in week out. When you lose by a point here and there you can then ask the important questions. What did you do when you had the ball that was right, and what you did that was wrong. Mainly it comes down to two things at the level Chesham plays. Firstly decision making and the ability to see where the space or weakness is in the opposition. Then you need to find a method in which to take advantage of that weakness. Secondly, purely and simply it comes down to fitness. Many times I have played for Chesham and in the set parts of the game we have destroyed an opposition. However because they have had the fitness to keep going and to keep challenging us they have come out on top at the end of 80 minutes.

Many people might think I am over simplifying the game but it is a dead simple game; quick ball played into space, results in trys. To produce it for 80 minutes, you need to be fit or you need to be sensible and manage the game well. A combination of the two would be even better.

Losing a game in a league format this early in the season isn’t fatal. It gives you a chance to have another look at what you are doing during games. The key is people taking responsibility for their part in the failures. If it was because the team wasn’t fit enough, then if you want to win, get out to the gym and get fitter. Or go for a run and put the effort in. If it’s because of the decisions that the team made then ask yourself what you did when you had the ball and what you did when you didn’t. If you squandered a 3 on 1 overlap then you should learn the harsh lessons that go with that.

To win a rugby game you need to have 15 people who are better than the opposition 15, who make the right decisions when they have the ball, and reduce the opposition’s choices when they don’t. To win a league you need more than that. You need lots of people to be selfless, committed and above it all driven by a desire to put their all into it week in and week out for a long season. Losing helps to discover how much inner desire we have to be part of a winning team. It has many positive lessons and is essential for any team to develop. Don’t dwell on them, don’t replay them, just take from them the feelings you are not prepared to encounter the next time you tie your boots and step over the whitewash.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Another team, another photo.

Anther photo where the addtion of two cameras gives us a distant look. 
For the second week in a row, I ended up in a team photo. This time however I actually played for 40 minutes. I say played for 40 minutes, I actually probably achieved 20 mins of play. The rest was a futile search for any sort of fitness that would just enable me to ride out the remaining 20. I don’t think I have ever been as pumped up coming onto the field as I was on Saturday. My head was spinning with self doubt and fear and my legs were like jelly. I think, as a result, I had shot my bolt after 20 minutes. By then the adrenalin that had got me off out of the starting blocks was starting to subside. I was left with the realisation that no matter how hard you train nothing compares to that first game of rugby for making you realise what it takes to play the sport.

We were uncontested in the scrums on Saturday in the 3rd 15 and that was a bit of a shock. I didn’t actually tell anyone I was going to play. I thought in that way it would be a choice I could make if I wanted to play. That said as soon as I entered the changing room and taped up and got ready there was no doubt I would be playing if given the chance.

So what happened? Well I came on at half time fuelled by much red bull and fear and decided to get the ball as much as I could. Maybe too much for some of my teammates liking, but to be honest, for the first time in a game, I really needed to be selfish so I could test myself out. I wanted to take a tackle with the ball, I wanted to get hit at a ruck to make myself realise it wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact like the old days it was good fun. So I made a few carries and hit a few rucks and generally got into the game and enjoyed myself. I even managed to put in a tackle which used all the techniques we had been learning at training pushing up on the inside shoulder of the attacker and coming forward dropping and hitting with the shoulder. Some people have suggested I didn’t wrap my arms around the guy. I will state for the record I did but he shot out of my arm so fast I couldn’t hold onto him. Anyway the ref saw nothing wrong with it so I don’t care. For me I had achieved the Holy Grail I had been looking for my whole rugby career, a really big hit on someone. I tell you what it felt so good I could have easily walked off the pitch there and then.

What of the newly formed 3rd 15? Well they are a work in progress, they have some great talented young players and with the right people in the right positions on Saturday I do think they would have won against Beaconsfield. Hopefully that will come because it is a great place to come back from an injury or a knock or like me to get some confidence under your belt. At the same time developing and introducing young guys into adult rugby.

The club gained a win for the first team in a tough game at the prison and the 2nd team smashed another team, and with a 3rd team out for the second week in a row, things are good. How long players in the seconds can keep smashing teams before they start taking first team spots is now the question. Competition for places at Chesham........who would have thought it!??