WC preparations. How much is too much, too little, just right?

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Post by CAInomore on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 1:20 pm

Hello folks, first time I've started a topic so bear with me.  

I've read a lot on these forums about how international sides need to start building to the next WC and lots of chat about what players may or may not make 2023.  I can see why some RFUs might want to deal in 4 year cycles but SA to me have shown that if you get the build up right 12-18 months out then that can be enough to win it.  So my question to you all is when should coaches start planning for the next WC and why?  

For what it's worth I think that planning in 4 year cycles is too long.  Players can develop/fall off a cliff much quicker than that and if you have planned to play a certain way or become reliant on the wrong player then rose tinted specs come into play.  For NH sides I think that 2 years out is more than sufficient given the amount of rugby those sides play.

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Post by The Oracle on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 1:38 pm

I think the coaching team themselves work well on a 4 years cycle. But agree that players perhaps do not need it. Saying that, as much as I love the Lions I think that for the four nations involved in it, the Lions puts a bit of a spanner in the works of a 4 years cycle. The tri nations teams get to plan and build over that 4 years but the Lions, for those players (and some staff) involved, puts the brakes on the cycle as the players go off on tour playing a different game plan, different moves, etc. and then need to come back and start from scratch again. OK, perhaps a little melodramatic but it's definitely something the tri nations sides don't have to contend with half way through their cycle.
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Post by Tramptastic on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 2:00 pm

The Oracle wrote:I think the coaching team themselves work well on a 4 years cycle.  But agree that players perhaps do not need it.  Saying that, as much as I love the Lions I think that for the four nations involved in it, the Lions puts a bit of a spanner in the works of a 4 years cycle.  The tri nations teams get to plan and build over that 4 years but the Lions, for those players (and some staff) involved, puts the brakes on the cycle as the players go off on tour playing a different game plan, different moves, etc. and then need to come back and start from scratch again.  OK, perhaps a little melodramatic but it's definitely something the tri nations sides don't have to contend with half way through their cycle.

I think you're right about the lions tour putting a spanner in home nations planning for the world cup - the result being players coming back from the tour need to be managed carefully for about a full season after. In terms of mental peaks and troughs it can be fairly brutal

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Post by miaow on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 2:43 pm

Agree wholeheartedly. You do need to prepare in 4 year cycles...but it seems to be far from an exact science. England showed that you can peak quite late with a second win in 2019. NZ probably got their prep wrong, Ireland definitely did, peaking in the middle of the 4 years. Oracle's spot on as well - the Lions hurts the teams and shows that teams need to factor in a drop off and/or resting star players and/or building depth in the summer and season after the Lions. I feel Wales probably had the best prep of all 4 NH teams all things considering but were hurt by injuries. England - too many holes in their side without similar injury issues, namely 9 and 15.

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Post by Cyril on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 3:04 pm

Wales struggled in nearly every game though, Miaow. More than any other top tier side they suffer from a lack of depth. Sheer bloody-mindedness keeps them in games but the strength in depth still hasn’t been developed.

It does make you wonder whether the Gatland factor could see a whole raft of defeats in the near future, especially if the 2nd and 3rd choices have to be involved.

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Post by Old Man on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 3:09 pm

After the RWC success of 1995 Francois Pienaar a few years later suggested you can prepare a RWC team in six months.

Personally I think it makes sense in a way.

The first three years you really just build player depth, then the final year you know the squad going and you start serious preparation for it.

I think it is much easier to get a squad of 31 focused on a goal for six or so months, rather than four years.

Rassie said his RWC squad has been together for 20 weeks, solely focused on the RWC.

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Post by miaow on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 3:09 pm

Struggled? Really? Not sure about that. They were shaky against France, admittedly, but every other game they got the job done imperfectly - fine margins prevented them from reaching the final, against the eventual winners. The reality is, people would (and were) saying the same about SA, and had they been the ones to lose by 3 points, people would be tempted to think the same. The reality is we'll never know what Wales would have done in the final, but I think Gatland was licking his lips at the prospect of beating England, and it would have been a 45:55 chance game at worst. Either way, Wales lost 14 players in the preparation and duration of the tournament - you can talk about depth but no country suffered similar losses. They did develop strength in depth, that's the point. Perhaps you missed it?

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Post by SecretFly on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:01 pm

Well you have to have an International team through the four years anyway, so you might as well try and have a good one all the time.

I think you can prepare to be good all the time but still do things in the background that might include those long term projections to the end of a four year cycle.

If you have a good side then the urgency of a four year plan perhaps isn't there so much.  You just try to sustain the quality.
If you're starting low or have a new coaching team immediately after a WC (as happens quite a bit) then it's not exactly an unnatural mood for the governing Union and the new coaches to have a distinct four year plan for improvement, an improvement that mostly gets judged on a final performance level at a WC.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:18 pm

Cyril wrote:Wales struggled in nearly every game though, Miaow. More than any other top tier side they suffer from a lack of depth. Sheer bloody-mindedness keeps them in games but the strength in depth still hasn’t been developed.

It does make you wonder whether the Gatland factor could see a whole raft of defeats in the near future, especially if the 2nd and 3rd choices have to be involved.

If it's as bad as you think we would have went out in the group stage. It's a lot better than it was, but nowhere near as good as England or France - both of whom have a lot of flourishing clubs. We're handicapped with 4 average regions, although Scarlets have potential to do better.

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Post by majesticimperialman on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:37 pm

I think in building for the RWC, you pick your best players mould them in to how you wan't them you play, but during the 4 year cycle had new players to keep the old guard if you like on their toes.

When EJ first took over England we had the likes of Hartly, Robshaw, Haskel, who all looked capable of being in the RWC squad. But along the way he lost faith with those and brought in George, Underhill, Curry. It is a matter of small tweaks along the way untill you have what looks like your best team.

But the 1 thing you cannot help, is injuries. a player gets injured, do you have a player of the same quality to replace that injured player? Often than not the answer is No, you don't. So you start over, trying to bring the covering player up to date.

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Post by SecretFly on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:56 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:I think in building for the RWC, you pick your best players mould them in to how you wan't them you play, but during the 4 year cycle had new players to keep the old guard if you like on their toes.

When EJ first took over England we had the likes of Hartly, Robshaw, Haskel, who all looked capable of being in the RWC squad. But along the way he lost faith with those and brought in George, Underhill, Curry. It is a matter of small tweaks along the way untill you have what looks like your best team.

But the 1 thing you cannot help, is injuries. a player gets injured, do you have a player of the same quality to replace that injured player? Often than not the answer is No, you don't. So you start over, trying to bring the covering player up to date.

OK

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Post by whocares on Tue 05 Nov 2019, 9:53 am

With regards of the injuries I think the likes of Wales could do with less warm up games... 2 or 3 should be more than enough for well drilled teams like them .

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Post by SecretFly on Tue 05 Nov 2019, 10:40 am

whocares wrote:With regards of the injuries I think the likes of Wales could do with less warm up games... 2 or 3 should be more than enough for well drilled teams like them .

Or.... to kill two birds with one stone.... more warm up games against Tier 2 sides? 

Perhaps the perfect time to suck in Tier 2 sides (even those not going to the WC) into games against Tier1 Nations, as is called for many times.

Because I think it's true - what you don't need in warm up games is two heavyweights trying to prove yet again that they are better than the other one.  The front of 'warm up friendly' is never real.  These players and coaches are rivals and despite what they say, every meeting is a test to see which one is best.

True role of warm up games should be to simply apply a gameplay heat from game to game to game.  Get players into a basic rhythm.  So more 'lightweight' games might be better even than less 'heavyweight' games.  But I've always criticised the idea of two big rivals meeting each other in warm ups so close to a full combat contest.

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Post by miaow on Tue 05 Nov 2019, 5:17 pm

I think that's a decent point - however, the issue with that is the Tier 2 sides would probably give a tougher test in many ways than the Tier 1 sides in warm up mode. Lower standard of rugby, lower skills, but probably some more intensity and psychological pressure. That's the complete inverse of what you want from a warm up - mental fatigue and possible injures, with minimal build up of skills and handling and fitness under pressure.

We saw a softening of it this year, but there's still a gentleman's agreement in place to not really go all out for the sake of what's to come.

Scotland also played 2 games v Georgia this year, no? And look how their first game went...

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