Letgo

The question of rotation


Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 9 Jul 2014 at 13:19
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Why aren’t modern rugby coaches willing to implement rotation? Or at least, why won’t Jake White?

Although based on my observation of the Super Rugby season, I can’t say that any of the coaches have been willing to give their top players a rest. The players involved in the incoming tours during June, were the same players that have been kept on the field for most of the 80 minutes of most of the games. Are we just uninformed? Does fatigue not play the role we think it does?

I understand the pressure that a competitive competition like Super Rugby must present to a coach. The problem is, when there is a match every weekend for 6 months, you can’t expect players to play every match and be at their best at the end of the season. It’s the professional era, but no conditioning you do will protect players from burnout if they play this much. Fifteen well paid professionals would seemingly disagree with me. The question is, are their non-rotation policies based on pressure to produce results, or do they have data that prove that players do not require more than 2 weeks rest in a 6 month period? I have to say, I would be shocked if the latter were true.

What do I know though? None of these coaches have seen the need to rest their top players to give them the chance to recover and get back to peak physical fitness. Obviously it won’t shorten their careers or increase their chances of injury or have an impact on on either at all. They would obviously not select players every single game of the season if it would have an impact on their rugby and rugby future. Surely they would rest players if it would benefit the team. It would seem, that either I have a completely uninformed understanding of player fatigue or that in fact, coaches and players alike, really don’t care about the impact of over playing.

At the start of the season Jake White proclaimed something to the effect, “I will use Patrick Lambie at flyhalf for every game. He will play there every minute” If I can remember correctly, he indicated that Cobus Reinach and Patrick Lambie will grow a partnership this year and that he will play them together as much as possible. Clearly, there was no second option. No thoughts of rotation. No further thought of having a strong option to back both players up, specifically when they need a rest (not just when they are injured). Yes, I agree, these two looked excellent together and so did the team when they were playing together, but because there was no plan of “not using them”, the plan that was implemented when we could not use them, was clearly only an afterthought (because it was a plan that would only be implemented if we didn’t have any other choice).

Fred Zeilinga should not have been the afterthought. Zeilinga should have had a clear role from day one. What about this as a statement at the start of the season? Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach are our first choice. Fred and Charl will cover them off the bench, they will be given enough time to get comfortable in their roles. They will have to step in and take the lead to give our first choice guys time away from the game, a proper rest to recondition and hopefully we have planned it in a way that they would peak at the right time. Some players will need more rest than others and it could change during the season, but all of our second choice will play an important role, not only in keeping the team fit, but in performing when they are called on and giving us more options to choose from. The season is too long to rely on one guy to do it all.

Is this philosophy so preposterous?

Stephen Lewies earned his first Springbok cap in June. Would he even have played more than a couple of minutes here and there for the Sharks had Pieter-Steph du Toit not been ruled out with injury? Clearly he is ready to play, but even in this instance I doubt very highly that Pieter-Steph du Toit would have been granted a rest at any time during the season had he stayed injury free. Marcell Coetzee was also finally granted a rest once injury struck him down during the tour. Is that how players are being managed and new talents are being found?

Kyle Cooper is ready to play Super Rugby. Lourens Adriaanse is good enough for the Springboks! Marcell does not have to play every single game. We have 6 quality backrows. And even in positions where we are presumably struggling. Willem Alberts did not have to be selected out of position. Peet Marais will now play in France. Heimar Williams and Andre Esterhuizen will be picked up by other unions sooner or later.

Brendan Venter implemented rotation during the Currie Cup. I don’t know if he would have been so brave during Super Rugby, but someone needs to take the first step. The amount of rugby that is being played must benefit from proper rotation implementation. Can coaches not see this?



47 Comments

  • Rotation of sorts will happen in a super season – injuries will see to that. The biggest advantage to me is to give backup players regular playing time so that should a front line player go down, the next guy can slot into the team seamlessly.

  • Comment 1, posted at 09.07.14 13:54:14 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Let’s for argument’s sake say that players do not require rest during the Super Rugby and Incoming Tours season. Would these superhuman specimens have the mental fortitude to keep motivated to give their best for each game? How do you keep motivating or improve yourself if you have no player to compare yourself against because you’re considered the incumbent in your position?

    There is no way anyone can convince me that rotation is not a necessary policy in modern rugby.

  • Comment 2, posted at 09.07.14 14:00:23 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Rotation cost the Sharks the game on the weekend. Jake should never have started that game without his Bok frontrow and Alberts

  • Comment 3, posted at 09.07.14 14:05:59 by Saffex Reply

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  • @Saffex (Comment 3) : I agree and disagree. Lack of rotation cost us the game and will cost us our Super Title.

    Beast, Bismarck, Jannie and Willem look tired and their replacements haven’t had enough gametime this year to be effective. We need 3 players in every position so that everyone can have a week off every now and then. 10 minutes off here and there doesn’t help to refresh the players!

  • Comment 4, posted at 09.07.14 14:11:51 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 3) : Had we rotated the front row and Alberts against the Stormers before the break, I don’t think we would not have been in the position making the Cheetahs match a must win.

  • Comment 5, posted at 09.07.14 14:19:35 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Well said. A rotational policy with an A and B team is a recipe for failure however, but you do not need to swap the whole side each week. I’m pretty sure that a few smart guys can work out a rotational policy where one or two of the top guys get a break for a game or two at a time, while keeping a core of senior guys on the park.

    It could also be this fascination with combinations. Seeing the front row, loose trio, halfbacks etc as inseparable is an issue. Why can’t Kyle Cooper start a game with the bok props, and next week bismark with the backups? I know jannie and bismark is family, but I’m sure they won’t mind not playing alongside each other every second.

    If there was a smart, well thought out plan in place to give the important guys a break every now and again, I feel confident we’d have been much better off this season.

  • Comment 6, posted at 09.07.14 14:24:03 by PTAShark Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 3) : Also it was not our second choice hooker that conspired with his locks to loose three lineouts in a row at crucial times.

  • Comment 7, posted at 09.07.14 14:26:15 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @PTAShark (Comment 6) : Well put

  • Comment 8, posted at 09.07.14 14:26:56 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Well written Rob but I also think the players should instruct the agents to put this forward in negotiating their contracts especially when they are well established players.

    I reckon the Crusaders and the Chiefs are the only teams that have rotated this season but the Lions also rotated their pack regardless of their starting pack being the best in the comp

  • Comment 9, posted at 09.07.14 14:53:28 by Chippa Reply

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  • @Chippa (Comment 9) : I agree it was well written.

    It wasn’t written by me, though

  • Comment 10, posted at 09.07.14 14:58:48 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan(comment10):I know just wanted to get your [email protected] enjoyed digesting the piece ta

  • Comment 11, posted at 09.07.14 15:04:39 by Chippa Reply

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  • @robdylan(comment10):I know just wanted to get your view :twisted: @Letgo enjoyed digesting the piece ta :lol:

  • Comment 12, posted at 09.07.14 15:05:50 by Chippa Reply

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  • @Chippa (Comment 9) : I think the players are part of the problem, more than the solution.

    Take a guy like Bismarck who basically has a hissy every time he is subbed during a game. They don’t know what’s in their own interests.

  • Comment 13, posted at 09.07.14 15:27:02 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Chippa (Comment 9) :

    Agents also just want money. Would unions give the same paycheck for less rugby?

    For player well being, if coaches won’t do it, I feel it should be part of the competition rules. Limit each player to a certain amount of games. That way it’s almost like formula one, where while the cars engine can go bigger and faster, it needs to stay in competition guidelines.

    Limit a player to, for example, 10 games per season, play-offs included, or maybe more – that would have to be determined by a board with health and conditioning professionals.

    Clearly the players, agents and coaches won’t do it.

  • Comment 14, posted at 09.07.14 15:33:14 by Letgo Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 13) :

    Agree with that. I don’t think, they think, they need it – but let me ask you this, do they have a choice when a doctor determines they have concussion? Not these days. It shouldn’t be up to the players anymore and I feel if the coaches won’t take responsibility, it shouldn’t be up to them anymore.

    And really, all I coach thinks about is winning right now, because losing could be their job. A person with that responsibility, isn’t in a position to make a decision like that.

    Player well-being should be built into the system. Maybe that’s taking it to far, but I don’t see coaches sticking to even their own plan of rotation – not once they’ve lost one or two games.

  • Comment 15, posted at 09.07.14 15:37:46 by Letgo Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 13) : I tend to agree on that one. If someone wants to play each and every game like him, he needs to deliver on each and every game like he would have having had a rest.

    I do think we lost allot of rotation from what BV did for us in the CC last year when JW took over. I agree with him to some extend that someone like Lambie needed allot of game time at no10 and grow in his position as that’s what Lambie needed.
    Its a dicey situation, in that JW lost his top 2 fly halves within the first few weeks. Then resorted to playing a tight game with FS and fly half. This might be biting him in the backside now, but do you think we would have made the finals in the first place had he just carried on rotating his players? I don’t think so.

  • Comment 16, posted at 09.07.14 15:45:52 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 3) :

    No he shouldn’t, because he didn’t rotate enough during the season that the second choice was comfortable enough to do the job. And by this time in the season I want my first choice rested and conditioned for the final stretch, so really a bad time to rotate, but he really had no choice. Even Bismark needs a break.

  • Comment 17, posted at 09.07.14 15:50:16 by Letgo Reply
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  • @PTAShark (Comment 6) :

    Yah, agree. A rotation policy needs a well thought out plan even before the competition starts. Obviously this plan may have to be adjusted, but you can’t just wing it either.

    I can see no reason why the entire front row can’t be swapped out either. Especially if you keep the rest of the tea in tact. That is if you are set on combinations.

    Otherwise, like you said. Losing just Bissie or keeping Bissie and using the new props, won’t be as much of a disruption.

  • Comment 18, posted at 09.07.14 15:54:30 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 16) :

    I think injuries made everything more of a mess because Jake was so set on using those two players the entire season. I agree that it made rotation even harder, but not impossible and not impossible while getting results. It’s always going to be more difficult the first time you implement it.

    Once you’ve done it for 2 or 3 seasons and you will have 1 or even 2 players that can confidently step in at any time, while maybe not being quite as prominent as the first guy, should not have a big overall effect on team performance.

    Charl and Fred could have stepped in. Frans was a good option too, but when Lambie got injured there was even more reason to use Heimar and Esterhuizen more. Since now the load on Steyn was impossible.

    If you can’t backup 3 injuries, you’re not building the right squad for a Super Rugby season. 3 injuries are inevitable.

  • Comment 19, posted at 09.07.14 16:00:59 by Letgo Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 19) : Agreed! We need depth and the reserve players must be able to step into the team and perform as well as the first-choice players.

    The Chiefs rotate a lot and the Lions have used Willie Britz, Tecklenburg, Minnie, Whitely and Kriel well. Their front-row has also been rotated a bit.

  • Comment 20, posted at 09.07.14 16:10:59 by ChrisS Reply
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  • The transfer market is abuzz! Cheetahs quite prominent.

  • Comment 21, posted at 09.07.14 16:25:08 by uShaka Reply

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  • @uShaka (Comment 21) : What news?

  • Comment 22, posted at 09.07.14 16:27:24 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @ChrisS (Comment 20) : yes they rotated their players really good and tell me who are they playing next week in the playoffs?!?!?!?!

  • Comment 23, posted at 09.07.14 16:28:58 by JD Reply
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  • @uShaka (Comment 21) : think the Cheetahs could lose a lot of players if they don’t do some serious negotiations.

  • Comment 24, posted at 09.07.14 16:30:15 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 23) : I wasn’t basing my argument on their ability as a team but on the competition for places in the Lions loose trio.

    Do you think that rotation wouldn’t freshen up Bissie, Beast and Jannie?

  • Comment 25, posted at 09.07.14 16:32:03 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @ChrisS (Comment 22) : @JD (Comment 24) : ya mass exodus underway hence the buying power. Willie & JP Du Plessis confirmed, Clayton Blommetjies and Sergeal Piertesen tbc.

  • Comment 26, posted at 09.07.14 16:34:43 by uShaka Reply

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  • @ChrisS (Comment 25) : Rotation also creates fierce competition, you know when your understudy has out performed you and naturally one tends to react with some serious vigour.

  • Comment 27, posted at 09.07.14 16:42:36 by uShaka Reply

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  • @uShaka (Comment 26) : This is JP “the next big thing” du Plessis? What an apt replacement for Johann Sadie :D

  • Comment 28, posted at 09.07.14 17:30:03 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Nice article Letgo!

    Other positives I’d like to add to this is its makes for a more attractive place for youngsters, who would get far more opportunities to prove themselves. The product at the end of a season is a team of players who can slot in and out of the team with minimal disruption. And most importantly players get more quality rest during a season. I say quality rest because resting with a crutch isn’t that great.

    Kinda playing devils advocate to my own opinions here but the issues with rotation the way I see it is the coach and players must be 100% committed to it. Can imagine that there is far more pre planning that goes into it as inevitable injuries will cause bigger problems. The severity of these curve-ball injuries depends a lot on the amount of work done beforehand or you risk ending up in a critical game too lopsided with inexperience, too many poor combinations and or lacking a core.

    Compared to a normal hierarchical type system, if a 1st choice player gets injured then the 2nd choice starts and 3rd onto the bench, etc. Relatively* straight forward.

    In Jake’s case I feel that the biggest problem to rotation in the forwards was the constant forced shuffling of the back line. Did we ever get a chance to field the same backline twice?

  • Comment 29, posted at 09.07.14 18:39:48 by gregkaos Reply
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  • @uShaka (Comment 26) : sorry to say but the players that’s confirmed and others that’s possibly leaving will leave a huge hole that I can’t see the Cheetahs filling anytime soon.

  • Comment 30, posted at 09.07.14 20:40:11 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 28) : Haha touche!! Pundits will be pundits! Let’s just hope our very own Tim Swiel doesn’t follow suit, well on his way though. Incredible phenomenon this ‘hype’ thing is.

  • Comment 31, posted at 09.07.14 20:49:20 by uShaka Reply

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  • @JD (Comment 30) : Lol well if Neymar was really the only reason Brazil made it to the semis then I’m quite confident that Le Roux should suffice for the Cheetahs.

  • Comment 32, posted at 09.07.14 20:52:43 by uShaka Reply

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  • @JD (Comment 30) : Would you like to see the banana boys make any acquisitions? Looks like we’ve already missed out on Lappies Labuschagne.

  • Comment 33, posted at 09.07.14 20:56:30 by uShaka Reply

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  • I think if you are really committed to rotation you can always make it work,in the front row we have Wors and Hadebe,never played a game…2nd row…Wentzel ton of experience,could have helped Marais gain experience,although Lewies was brilliant!(Oosthuizen another one only trusted towards end,overplayed Alberts and out of preferred position),back row….Botes,Kankow and Keegan…used sparingly,Charl is leaving,so could have given Ungerer some opportunities,flyhalf we didnt have much choice in the end,although recalling Du Preez from varsity cup(and thus not losing him to Wp)and using him of the bench with Swiel,Zeilinga definitely 1st choice after Pat…Centres Esterhuizen and Williams really hoped we would see more of them,S’bura a revalation,JP a plonker at centre!We have Odwa,Mvovo and SP all experienced at Fback,Wings aplenty also!just my 2 cents worth,but in my opinion the palyers good enough to be stars at other unions hardly getting gametime…Cooper,Wors,Ungerer,Esterhuizen,Williams.
    One last thing,although I dont think it was planned by JW,just to sum up what a couple guys where saying about compitition for places,how well did SP play when returning to starting berth after he got “rotated” with Mvovo?

  • Comment 34, posted at 09.07.14 21:52:22 by BarendL Reply
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  • @uShaka (Comment 33) : ja for sure. Sharks needs to get someone to replace Deysel and I’m sure Teboho Mohoje would like to live in Durbs. Another young tight head prop and maybe a young hooker to help cover when Du Plessis is not available.

  • Comment 35, posted at 09.07.14 23:28:08 by JD Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 28) : Sadie was a very good player until he decided to move to the Bulls. Something or someone there really stuffed him up big time!!!!!!

  • Comment 36, posted at 09.07.14 23:32:38 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 36) :

    Sadie was a very good player based on what? Juniors? Currie Cup?

    I’ve never seen him being any more than adequate in SR. Sometimes magical talents at the lower levels just don’t translate up.

    EG. Tim Swiel. Should we blame the Sharks for stuffing him up? Or is he just not ready for SR yet? Will he ever be?

    Apportioning blame at the feet of the most convenient target is rather simplistic.

  • Comment 37, posted at 10.07.14 00:16:21 by fyndraai Reply
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  • No team yet. :sad:

  • Comment 38, posted at 10.07.14 08:42:56 by Letgo Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 35) : I think we’re golden at hooker…. let’s not forget Monde Hadebe and Franco Marais

  • Comment 39, posted at 10.07.14 09:05:46 by robdylan Reply
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  • I agree with Rob 100% on the pivots. Swiel should have done duty on the XV for vodacom cup. Steyn at 10 was desperation caused by no forethought on JW side. We could have had an in form Zeilinga ready to step up for Pat had he done that. Instead even after Fred had recovered he played a fringe player (swiel) and still persists in this. I’m glad frans was there but his style and discomfort at 10 influenced the game a lot and we have yet to regain that. In all fairness Frans should have been pushed back into center as soon as the crisis at 10 was over. Also growing Lwazi at 15 came at the expense of SP Marais who should have seen a lot more game at his position. I can also see that growing SP Marais flyhalf skills could also benefit sharks.

  • Comment 40, posted at 10.07.14 09:06:57 by coolfusion Reply

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  • @fyndraai(comment37):I think Sadie was the best SA 13 attacking wise and it would be hard to expect him to defend 2 channels 12&13 as he was paired him useless 12′s defence wise and if we take into consideration that the Cheetahs as a whole had no idea how to defend maybe he could have been better :?:

  • Comment 41, posted at 10.07.14 09:27:10 by Chippa Reply

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  • @coolfusion (Comment 40) : When was the crisis over?

  • Comment 42, posted at 10.07.14 09:39:13 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 37) : That’s the question will he ever be?,some players cannot take the step up and like Bambie you cannot give time to grow into 10,you either have it or not ,you can or can’t ,in or out,Fred Z came in against Tahs and look what he did,now that’s a true 10

  • Comment 43, posted at 10.07.14 09:45:54 by benji Reply
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  • @benji (Comment 43) : every time Fred plays, he impresses.

    I just wish you didn’t feel the need to belittle other players in order to praise him. It just detracts from your argument and frankly makes everyone else think you’re a chop.

  • Comment 44, posted at 10.07.14 09:57:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • So, where is the team announcement? I’m on a plane about to leave the gate! If I don’t get it now, I won’t see it for at least 9 hours!!!

  • Comment 45, posted at 10.07.14 10:03:23 by David12246 Reply

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  • @David12246 (Comment 45) : it’s up

  • Comment 46, posted at 10.07.14 10:04:08 by robdylan Reply
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  • @PTAShark (Comment 6) : I agree but my view is that you need depth in quality and not numbers and that for a number of years now the Sharks have a distinct A & B team,not like 2006 to 2008 ,and despite the bias on this site for some players fact is they at best good CC players ,no more,hence how do you implement rotation at SR level and maby that a factor in The Graet White not being keen to totate

  • Comment 47, posted at 10.07.14 10:05:25 by benji Reply
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