Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Forwards the key to success

You may remember discussion at the end of last season about why our "originals" did so well when they started. Obviously they may have all be geniuses, born to play the game, and lead by an amazing coach.

Possible, but unlikely.

The other suspicion some of us have had is that for the first couple of seasons we (by chance) happened to have very forwards-based teams. This was partly because we happened to have players who turned out to be pretty good forwards, but mainly because the first few coaches had a good idea about what forwards did but were a bit shakey when it came to the backs.

In fact as I recall we spent hours on tediously dull things like body position in the scrum, as well as endless rucking and maul drills - mainly because I understood those bits of the coaching manual rather better - and because its all technique so its much easier to coach (stand there, push here, lean like that, wait a minute while I turn to the next page... etc.)!

I mention this not as an excuse for another trip down Memory Lane, but because some remarkable information has come out of a study of last year's men's Six Nations (it would be nice to think that similar studies were done on the women's tournament but somehow I doubt it). It is a bit of a truism in rugby to say that you cannot win without effective forwards - the best backline in the world is no good if they do not have the ball - and it seems that the champions, Ireland, were perfect examples of this.

They did not exactly major in flowing passing moves by their backs - in fact very few Irish passing movements contained more than three passes (only one every 38 moves, compared to one in 15 for the other teams!). In one match they made just 82 passes! On the other hand Ireland was by far the best rucking team team - only turned over over seven times in almost 500 rucks and mauls! - a ratio far better than any other team.

The moral from this - and our own experience in our first season - is that success is dependent on getting the forward play right. Win your scrums and retain the ball at the breakdown and even complete novices can be competitive. So - if you are unsure what position to play next season - be a forward.

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