by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
As the United States inches closer to having all of its men’s collegiate and club teams competing, it seems an appropriate time to discuss positional requirements and how they interface with modelling out a performance for a rugby player.
Positional requirements are not new to our sport; in fact, the positional requirements for the fifteen positions that comprise a team are well established. The list of jobs a flanker is required to do, and how they should do them, have long been the topic of many post match conversations.
Performance modelling is a much more detailed and individualistic approach. When a coach models out a performance for a player, they are mapping out what the player needs to do to perform their very best, which sometimes deemphasizes some of the positional requirements.
Many high school and university players demonstrate a good understanding of positional requirements, but as coaches, we can further a player’s ability to play to their full potential by performance modelling.
Let’s look at an example of positional requirements for an openside flanker during primary phase possessions. The positional requirements would include perfect execution of assignment at the line of touch. No lifts are missed, jumpers are held at the apex of the jump/lift mechanism, and jumpers are returned safely to the ground upon winning of the ball. If the flanker is also a jumper, superior footwork and velocity off the ground are positional requirements. Positional requirements might also include the flanker’s role in secondary attacking and defensive phases.
Now let’s look at how we would build a performance model for that same player. In our example, the flanker isn’t a seasoned player (yet) so we can’t model out his performance to include dominating the match, but he is exceptionally fit, just not explosive. His ball handling skills are solid and his nose for the game is developing.
His performance model contains a dozen runs of the ball, typically off of the flyhalf, as we exploit his ability to reposition himself throughout the match. Because of his fitness, his model would also include getting to every ruck he can get to, to either link the ball carrier - playing a role in maintaining continuity, or clearing away a defender. Occasionally, we might even want him to stand in as dummy half to assist in moving the ball away from the breakdown. When at the defensive line of touch, we will position him at the tail of the lineout to apply as much pressure as possible on the attacking flyhalf. In our performance model designed for this flanker, we will challenge him to never stop running, because his greatest asset is to run. This is how he will best leave a mark on the contest.
When defending in secondary phases, our performance model would not be specific around the quality of the tackles made, but the quantity of tackles. This sets out a targeted number tackles to work toward during a match. This particular aspect of his performance model is to capitalize on his ability to cover the field and not only tackle the ball carrier, but to disposes them of the ball whenever possible.
Performance modelling might veer away from some of the traditional positional requirements in an effort to utilize the current assets of the player while work continues by him to acquire the skills needed to reach his potential. This way, the player is positioned to have success based on what his is good at and will help his team to victory.
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand (Bay of Plenty), the U.S. (The Old Blues), England (London Harlequins), and Wales (Pontypridd) for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.