Fraser Talk: Unshackled
28 April, 2011
|As Fiji Rugby builds up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup join Flying Fijians assistant coach Shannon Fraser as he gives a regular insight into team preparations. |
To unshackle is to remove restraints, to impart freedom, to provide oxygen to a suffocating state or to extend previously confined boundaries. Rugby has in recent years removed, or at least loosened the shackles of conservatism and allowed the game to shift back towards it’s original state, it’s intended state where a young boy from Rugby School took a previously kicked ball, picked it up and ran.
Fingerprints can now be found on match balls all around the world as opposed to impressions of bootlaces. Players are encouraged to run the ball and not simply kick it away to avoid errors. Teams are playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose. Our game has a pulse again.
I was recently in Dublin and had the opportunity to catch up with close friend and Irish National Defence Coach, Les Kiss, who re-enforced this observation as he explained how over the course of his three years with Ireland the number of tackles made in the six nations has more than doubled, suggesting teams, even those in the northern hemisphere, are maintaining possession longer and looking to use the ball more than kick it away. This is certainly the case in the Super 15 as score lines regularly exceed 50pts collectively.
The shift to a more attacking brand has resuscitated a game that had fallen to the point were it was better not to have the ball and to focus only on territory. The 2007 RWC was the low point were teams like England and Argentina who kicked the most, made more tackles and scored the least tries made it into the cup’s medal stages.
It’s a double edge sword for the Flying Fijians. On one side the modern game fits perfectly to the proposed national playing style, where, with ball in hand our instinctive, dynamic and explosive nature will be rewarded through the positive law interpretations, while on the other side of the sword, our oppositions have now had time to adjust to this style and will have ultimately developed defensive strategies to counter the increased attacking confidence.
Running rugby with an intent to win, rather than to avoid losing, will make for an exciting Rugby World Cup. Shannon is happy to field any comments you may have for him by emailing him at Shannon@fijirugby.net.
View earlier articles from Shannon:
Fraser Talk: Sunny Skies up North Fraser Talk: Collaboration