39 Weeks of non-stop rugby

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :All Blacks, Currie Cup, Original Content, Springboks, Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship on 1 Nov 2012 at 10:30
Tagged with : , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer, in interviews this week, has expressed his frustration at mismanagement of players that have been overplayed in this long season, leaving him with injuries to key players and a bunch of overplayed and exhausted players in his training group. Meyer feels that we should be looking to New Zealand for tips in this area saying: “I think the one team that gets it right in the world is the All Blacks”

Just one thing – Does New Zealand players really play that much less rugby than our players do? Their All Blacks don’t get involved in the ITM CUP, but that mounts up to just about 3 more games for most of the Springbok players. So how exactly does New Zealand get it right, unless I’m missing something, which I am completely willing to concede if someone can point it out to me?

The problem is the yearly expansion on Super Rugby… or is it Super 16 already?

I can’t see that any of the countries involved in Super Rugby have been managing the growing work load on the players particularly well. If they’re ready, the player has to play and according to most coaches and players, ready means the player feels he is okay to play, even when the medical staff has pointed out a few ‘niggles’.

There is no pre-prescribed idea of how coaches will manage players. Not the coaches that I have spoken to and not according to any of the interviews I have read. The consensus seems to be that the players know their bodies and know what their bodies can take. What?!

With the Super Rugby/England Tour/ Super Rugby/ Rugby Champion – Currie Cup/ EOYT season stretching all of 39 weeks, which includes exactly one week off (for those that has made it into finals), you would think that coaches would put some emphasis on a set conditioning plan that included giving every player breaks every now and then, not just to rest their bodies, but also build up their strength.

I haven’t yet seen a coach that does not go by the ‘When they get injured – they’ll get to rest’ way of thinking. It’s nice of Meyer to point to New Zealand as the leaders in this area, but please point to the player that was actually given a break to recondition, not rehabilitate, but recondition.

If we look at this end of year tour for all the teams involved in Super Rugby, who are the ones that were not overplayed and will go on this tour refreshed? JP Pietersen? Why? Jaco Taute, Duane Vermeulen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Drew Mitchell, David Pockock, Kieran Read, Conrad Smith, Daniel Carter. What do all these players have in common? They are all just coming back from an extensive injury or had a lengthy injury layoff at some point during this 38 week season.

National coaches fortunately had their players for 8 weeks during the Rugby Championship during which there would have been a few of the 30 men in their squads that was not used as extensively and with the few “lucky” players that was injured at some point this year, will now be refreshed. The one thing these coaches can to do show that they are all in, in preserving their countries’ top players, would be to use the players that are usually only seen as extras. For the Springboks these players include Patrick Lambie, Juan de Jongh, Juandre Kruger…

This might be the best excuse for a 44% success rate coach yet, but even so, Heyneke Meyer has a point here. If we’re going to keep expanding rugby tournaments, (which I don’t think we should, as it threatens the quality and integrity of the tournament, but that’s a discussion for another day), provincial coaches need to become more professional in their approach to player management and conditioning.


  • I had this exact same conversation with my Dad a few weeks ago when Tim Noakes made remarks similar to Meyer’s about player management in New Zealand versus South Africa.

    The only differences I could figure out were the three extra CC games (as you pointed out) and players like McCaw and Carter who get the option of a sabbatical in their contracts. Are those differences really enough to differentiate New Zealand from South Africa? We’re missing some piece of the puzzle here and I wonder whether New Zealand don’t have us beat on better rotational policies or conditioning?

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.11.12 10:49:36 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • There is too much rugby being played, I agree. But HM is just making excuses, maybe he should manage his poor player selection and even worse game plan better.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.11.12 10:50:35 by JarsonX Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • I’m guessing that Meyer is referring to Steve Hansen’s ability to swop players in key roles, effectively giving the players the break during the International season.

    For instance – he kept changing his tight five, rotating the props, hookers and even the locks, ensuring that over a two week period, a player plays 60 minutes and 20 minutes, effectively one game every two weeks.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.11.12 10:53:07 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : That makes sense. Rugby coaches seem to have an ingrained inability to provide context but perhaps the ambiguity serves it’s own purpose 😀

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.11.12 10:58:04 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 4) :

    Yes, but if my point is indeed what Meyer meant, then in actual fact it comes down to him making the call to rest players, and not the Unions..

    So I might be off the mark actually..

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.11.12 10:59:56 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : Okay, so he is frustrated with himself for not doing the same?

    I suppose NZ had less injuries, but still.

    And I am of the opinion that if a player plays 5 minutes he was put through the same training during the preceding week, which means he was effectively given of 75 minutes of an entire week.

    IMHO rotating players to the bench, unless they go through a different training program for that week, which I am not aware of (why would I be :grin:), means nil in reconditioning the player. It only helps the player to be less match fit.

    It really depends on how they manage the player during the week. So I could be wrong.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.11.12 11:02:44 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 5) : Who knows what he means, right?

    He his unhappy with player management so saying Steve Hansen got it right, would be saying he’s unhappy with how he does it compared to Hansen.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.11.12 11:04:26 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Perhaps our players break down more due to the way we generally play – trying to run through and over defenders, rather than past them. NZ players rely less on brute force to beat the defense.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.11.12 11:11:45 by Bokhoring Reply
  • If all else fails, have your excuses ready in advance.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.11.12 11:21:44 by Bump Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : Also a good point.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.11.12 11:44:23 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : Thats was certainly how Bissie got injured wasn’t it, more so because 3 Argentinians were waiting for him! So not so much how we play, but with the predictability with which we now do it.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.11.12 11:51:09 by neilster Reply

  • Meyer thinks we will constantly beat aus and nz with his game plan -that’s whats to blame. I’m sure quality players such as Juan De Jong, Lambie and Jantjies havent had that much game time either.

    The reason players break down is purely because of the way they play; Stormers defensively orientated game.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.11.12 12:12:29 by Talent Reply
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) :

    If you look at the starting line-ups also, the NZ franchises tend to rotate their entire squad throughout the season.

    An example… Crusaders starting front-row through the season.

    Game 1: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 2: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 3: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 4: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 5: Wyatt Crockett & Owen Franks
    Game 6: Wyatt Crockett & Owen Franks
    Game 7: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 8: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 9: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 10: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 11: Wyatt Crockett & Owen Franks
    Game 12: Wyatt Crockett & Owen Franks
    Game 13: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 14: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks
    Game 15: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 16: Ben Franks & Owen Franks
    Game 17: Wyatt Crockett & Owen Franks
    Game 18: Wyatt Crockett & Ben Franks

    Not one of their props started more then 4 games in a row.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.11.12 12:30:10 by hendrikp Reply

  • @hendrikp (Comment 13) :

    That is amazing!

    It is actually structured..

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.11.12 12:36:00 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Coming from the guy that played Goosen when he was not ready, and persisted with Morne Steyn when everyone else could see he needed a break. Sure that was a mental injury, but the recovery time is probably even worse.

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.11.12 13:14:05 by flop Reply

  • @hendrikp (Comment 13) : The Crusaders have the luxury of a number of AB props. What did it look like for the Chiefs for example?

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.11.12 13:14:27 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @hendrikp (Comment 13) : Theres Heynekes answer right there. Send that to him!

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.11.12 13:17:49 by Caratacus Reply

  • Well HM played our stars into the ground to such an extent that we couldn`t even count on them to help us win a CC on our home ground.

    Zero Sympathy from me! 👿

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.11.12 14:10:00 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @Letgo (Comment 7) : Apparently what he means has got something to do with the NZ players being contracted directly to the NZRU and so the national union can dictate to the franchises when to rest a player.

    I would hate to give this sort of power to HM.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.11.12 16:00:42 by Orelando_G Reply

  • @Orelando_G (Comment 19) : Nope. So far I would say that’s the last thing I would him to be in control of.

    Provincial coaches need to look into this anyway. We can’t have unions with 10 players and more out injured by the end of a season.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.11.12 16:30:15 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Heyneke Meyer, in interviews this week, has expressed his frustration

    Can I just also express my frustration with Heyneke Meyer?

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.11.12 16:30:24 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • This knobend is just getting in his excuses early.

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.11.12 16:31:28 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @Letgo (Comment 20) : the stormers and cheetahs come to mind..how do you lose so many players so quickly?

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.11.12 18:00:47 by shaniboi Reply


Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.