Saturday, 26 October 2013

Pattern for success

 After witnessing Northampton demolish Saracens in the Premiership and the the uncanny resemblance of Stephen Myler with the decision making and game management of Alex King from his time at Wasps I feel comment is required to define the similarities.

What happened today I call half pitch pattern, where the 10 simply assesses what is going on in front of him and makes the call to use hands or feet back down the outside channels. It is not prescripted, simply left to the 10 to make the call. What do support players do, simple, follow the 10. The 10 needs to look to reverse the flow of the movement of the ball at any time if significant forward momentum is not being achieved. Alex King became a master of this, mostly when the ball was being moved left to right, where he would change the direction and use his left boot to push the ball down the the left hand channel supported by a strong chase OR attack this channel with hands - not quite so smart down the right hand channel....but hey ho.

Now this is simply a territory game but is hugely effective in the midfield areas as opposed to going through the phase after phase which often ends up gaining no foward momentum and can be very attricional. Stack the numbers down one channel and work this channel either with a grubber type kick or through the hands. Most importantly it is a pattern that can be applied in all conditions, hence balance and structure of squad make up is more consistant, that is you do not require a different type of player for dry, wet or windy conditions. Much easier to drop players in and out of the starting line up. May not be the best pattern for one off cup type games, but for long league type structures it is a hugely effective pattern. Equally by adopting this pattern of play, practice becomes very focussed, playing the channels, of loading, chasing, supporting and clearing all come into line.

Alex King was in the most the key player throughout the successful years of Wasps, remembering the 10 handles the ball and makes more decisions than any other player, what he does determines the movement and effectiveness of the team. Alex kept the ball in front of his forwards. Sometimes this was easy to do, but mostly Wasp had, politely, average abilities at set piece, hence Alex needed to manufacture the circumstances to be able to put the ball in front of the pack. For a parallel example Lawrence Dallagio mostly played behind a beaten or weaker scrum, however Lawrence would simply pick early and turn a retreating scrum into a static ruck which in turn would become a forward momentum ruck (hopefully) which again in turn Alex King could then work the game into the channels.

Half pitch rugby as I call it, is about attacking a channel. This means support is trained into dropping in behind attacking front lines and not looking laterally to quickly. It is very much a cultural, trained response which has been and was developed on the training park. For coaches, you do not need to sit in front of the players with a flip chart or PowerPoint, you just simply need to set the parameters during training runs and maybe have some one to ones with the one else. A good 10 will quickly see the options and understand the requirements based on the circumstances in front. It seems that Stephen Myler is an outstanding pupil.

Very pleased to see Alex doing so well and having that very special ability to transfer his knowledge to others......just peeved it's not with WASPS. Still good on you old boy...

1 comment:

  1. Rob,

    Even though you've transitioned to a new phase of your career, you're still able to impart the knowledge that you have gained so effectively through this blog. My lad (Liam) and I watched the match this afternoon (it was excellent) but have learned more in the two minutes it took to read this write-up than we did in an hour and a half listening to the guff from the commentary team.

    Keep up the great work with the blog and look forward to catching up with you at AP (can't go tomorrow as he's got a match at Farnham).

    All the best