By Brummagem Bertie
May 29 2012
Darren Birch, the WRSC Chair, welcomed everyone to the evening and introduced the panel: Phil Davies; Phil Larder; Matt Kvesic; and Sam Betty. Technical support was provided by Tom Tench, one of the club's Performance Analysts, who had put together some clips of the season's action to entertain us at various points.
Darren explained that Dale Rasmussen should have been with us but he was still suffering the after effects of his collision against London Irish. Darren asked everyone not to mention Cardiff to Phil Davies, as Phil would not be able to comment and Darren would have to ask that person to leave via the balcony! With that, he passed the mike to Phil D for the first part of the evening.
Phil said that he would look at 2 key themes for the season: the targets that had been set and player welfare.
The season had been blocked into 3 groups of 7 games each. In Block 1 we had gained 10 points, which was disappointing, especially in view of a couple of close games. Block 2 was much better, with 16 points, including close games at Newcastle, Exeter, and Sale away, which could have meant it was even better. The final block of games yielded another 10 points, which was disappointing again, especially the last 2 home games.
Phil said that as a team and coaches they were striving for consistency. The ambition is to keep pushing forward. The club was likely to finish 10th this season, which was mission accomplished. The target for next season was to aim for mid-table, then look to challenge for the top 4. Phil summed up the mood of most supporters in regarding some parts of the season as great, some not so, and some just bloody frustrating!
On the player welfare side Phil complimented the Strength and Conditioning Team, led by Stuart Pickering, for their excellent work. Injury rates, despite a blip in the back row, had reduced to 11% this season, down from 25% when he and Richard Hill took over. A key part of this was the planning of players' workloads and their monitoring, so that they were not overworked - injuries are more common in tired players.
Matt Kvesic was then presented with his Young Player of the Season award. He said his highlight of the season was beating Gloucester at home, especially as it gave him bragging rights over his dad! Matt also said the he preferred to play 7 but would happily play across the back row, wherever he was picked really, even on the wing, as that seemed quite easy. He had had some banter off Delon Armitage when he ended up on the wing against Irish but, oddly, Delon hadn't seemed too keen to run down his channel!
Next up was Phil Larder, who explained how he coached defence and the systems he was trying to put in place at Worcester. Phil appreciates that most players hate tackling and that it is viewed as the unsexiest part of rugby. Phil doesn't like the terms attack and defence - he prefers offence and defence. His philosophy is that a team should always try to attack, even in defence - a key objective is to force turnovers and convert turnovers into tries, e.g. Sarries at home.
Phil felt that defensively the season had been disappointing and we could have done better, e.g. Sale away. One of the hardest games this season was Sarries at home, where we were just hanging in there in the first half, but it had been one of the best defensive displays of the season. Phil said that too many crowds only get noisy when their team is attacking and he was impressed how noisy Warriors supporters were the team was defending - the players really appreciate it, too.
The defensive structure generally is to try to defend in a line across the pitch. To introduce this he got the players to hold hands and walk down the pitch! (Warriors really ought to hold more open training sessions!!) The team also tries to dominate the middle, especially rucks, demonstrated by some clips from Quins away and Sarries at home.
No defence is invincible, however, so the second line is a pendulum behind the defensive line, formed by the back 3 and the scrum half, sweeping. To support this Phil instils an urgency to reset after every error, so that players get back between the ball and the goal line as quickly as possible, if involved in a tackle or the opposition breach the line.
Phil then confirmed what many of us suspected by admitting that there was too much kick chase at Worcester and too much of it was not that good! A certain 9 and 10 were singled out as being particularly guilty! Phil did say that when a kick does go up it is important for the team to defend in a line, a �Blue Wall�, rather than have someone haring off after the kick and leaving a hole behind.
There was a slide showing the importance of DOMINANT TACKLES, which has been recreated here
The Importance of Dominant Tackles
Dominant Tackles more often than not force an error and WIN POSSESSION
Dominant Tackles always put our defence on the front foot and enable us as a team to go FORWARD
Dominant Tackles very often enable us to win the PHYSICAL BATTLE
|Player||Postion||Games Started||Dominant Tackles|
Phil explained that he worked on one on one tackling every week with each player. Ras was one of the most destructive tacklers he had ever worked with, whilst Miles and Marcel were the best defensive wingers in the Prem this season. Ras and Benji topped the dominant tackles stats, with 52 and 36 each. Ras was more than the front 5 combined, which was a key area for improvement next season. Not surprisingly, Phil was sad that Ras had not re-signed.
Phil finished with an apology for the last 2 performances, which were awful and the defensive displays were awful too. He promised that Warriors would get better next season.
Phil wasn't allowed to sit down just yet, however, as it was time for the True Warrior award, voted for by the WRSC Committee. I t was a closely split vote, with Big Dave having had a superb season but the award went to Ras, which Phil accepted on his behalf. Phil said that he had worked with some great players - Ellery Hanley, Sean Edwards, Wilko, and Neil Back - Ras was right up there with them and one of his favourite players to have worked with. Phil Davies also said that he had only been here two years but Ras had left a real impression and been one of the best players he had ever worked with.
Next up was the Player of the Season award. Darren explained that everyone had been disappointed when Pat Sanderson had to retire at the start of the season and we had had to find a replacement at short notice. What he had achieved had surpassed all expectations, however. Goodey had been 3rd, TT 2nd, by 1 vote, but the Player of the Season was Sam Betty.
Sam said that he was happy and privileged to be at Worcester and had enjoyed every minute. The highlight had been beating Bath at home, especially after falling out with one or two of them at the Wreck in the LV! The biggest change he had noticed was the change in pace, you cannot afford to switch off mentally in the Prem. The hardest part of training was with Phil Larder, who was pretty scary!
There was then a refreshment break, before a Question and Answer session.
First up, someone asked why there had been so much kicking this season. Phil D replied that a lot of it was not by design! Jon Callard comes in and helps with punting to touch (from penalties) and place kicking but some of the kicking from hand needs to improve. Phil L said that controlling territory is very important. Kicking from deep is ok, if the kicking is accurate! From halfway, however, you should keep hold of possession more, like Exeter.
To a follow up about the lack of a chase from Warriors, Phil L said that he was happy with the speed of the chase. He would prefer to give the opposition 5 metres territory but get numbers in a defensive line and straight. Some coaches like to get people up as quickly as possible but this can be risky and allow the opposition to break the line and get in behind. (I hope the guy behind in me in the South Stand takes note and stops shouting, �Chase it!� whenever a kick goes up next season!)
Someone also asked what Hilly said to Shaun Perry after his kick to touch in the last minute against Sarries. Phil D said it wasn't, "That was a good kick.", or even, "That was a good decision."!
The next contributor pointed out that the scoreboard and clock in front of the Sixways Suites were, frankly, embarrassing. It should be better next year, as Elonex are sponsoring two big screens. Phil L asked if they could also give Percy a watch, as he was always late for training!
The next questioner asked about our attack for next season. Phil D said that at the start of this season the main aim was to improve the defence, so they went out and got the best defence coach available. They were already looking to do the same with the attack for next season. Phil L, to gales of laughter, asked Phil D if he would be helping the club to develop that. Darren Birch reminded Phil L of his warning at the start of the evening. In his defence and to yet more laughter Phil L said that he hadn't mentioned Cardiff!
Next, someone asked how recruitment was handled. Phil D explained that there was a Recruitment and Retention Group of Richard Hill, Phil L, himself, and a couple of directors. They were responsible for succession planning and identifying potential recruits. A lot depended on opportunity and finance and whilst they had a budget to work to the Board and Charlie Little were supportive.
The players were then asked about the last two games, Exeter and London Irish. Matt said that team meetings were a tough place to be on a Monday morning, when they have lost badly at the weekend. Exeter was the worst point of the season, whilst the players had let themselves, the club, and the supporters down against Irish. He felt that the team needed to do what Exeter did and turn narrow defeats into narrow wins.
Sam said that they all hate to be beaten and always try to give their all.
Phil L said that he followed the advice of Jack Gibson, an Australian, who said it was important not to speak to players when emotional. He won't criticise players until he has seen the tape. Even then, he sees the players as a group, asking them to look at their own game and identify their errors themselves. The team was pretty good at that and he admits to his mistakes too. He apologised again for the last two games.
Finally, there was a question about referees! Phil D said that they have a ref in nearly every week, to take a training session. Warriors have averaged about 8/9 penalties per game this season, which is pretty good. Generally, refs like coming to Worcester now. Yes, they are inconsistent, but so are players and coaches. The rest of us would probably consider our one good eye to be very consistent!
|29 May, 2012 07:39||Report|
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|29 May, 2012 12:51||Report|
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