Differences in preparation highlight differences in ability

There were two slightly different approaches to the pre match warm up at Twickenham on Saturday. Both enabled the England and New Zealand teams to start the game at an intensity approaching maximum, but there were subtle differences that, for me, showed where England’s lack of sponteneity comes from.

New Zealand were out on the pitch a good 50 minutes before kick off. Players were in charge of their own warm up including all the usual suspects of raising core temp and blood flow, activation and mobilisation of muscle groups and some potentiation. After this, a team decision-making drill through a few rows of shields and a team defensive drill. Then back in for final prep.

England came flying out en masse, a few had been out for a little while doing their own thing beforehand, about 35 minutes prior to kick off. A couple of basic handling drills then splitting into forwards and backs for some dynamic stretching, all prescribed. The forwards went through some wrestling bits before getting in some lineouts while the backs went into some 3 on 2 drills.

The main difference I picked between the two were that England didn’t have to think for themselves, they were told what to do at every stage.  If this is representative of the national setup and those at premiership clubs then I think England fans may have a long wait until they celebrate success again. I have  heard talk of premiership players planning moves for six phases of play, how can that possibly work? What happens if a space opens  up, will a player be accused of going “off plan” if they attack it? Will they even notice the space is there? This type of planning takes out a player’s reactive ability, it doesn’t develop decision makers, it develops robots.

Neil Welch

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