I was reminded over the weekend just how prevalent the â€˜runnersâ€™ have become on the rugby field. No, Iâ€™m not talking about the players themselves. Iâ€™m referring to the â€˜trainers,â€™ who invade the field at every opportunity.
David Campese, The Roar
All theyâ€™re really trying to do, of course, is tell the players how to play the game and to pass on the coachesâ€™ instructions.
The players, it seems, are no longer capable of thinking for themselves. Or theyâ€™re not ALLOWED to.
Look at the weekend.
In the Reds game there were even injured players with water bottles telling the players what to do! Why?
Perhaps it a case of over-coaching and enforcing control by the coaches or a lack of confidence and knowledge of the game from the players.
When Lucas went off and Genia moved to 10, you could see Quade Cooper literally trying to coach Genia in the position while he was desperately trying to get his breath back.
The modern player is having the game taken away from him. Coaches are telling them how to think, when to think, and what to think.
When we played, we had a physio, a doctor, a manager, and a coach. That was it.
There were no â€˜runnersâ€™ because the coach trusted us to use our judgement and he knew we could communicate with each other as we were always on the same page.
And coaches were not allowed on the field.
At half-time, coaches would write a few things down and pass the note onto a reserve, who would pass it onto the captain. Then he would talk to the team about it.
It was all very simple. As it should be.
The message remains the same to this day: let the players play the game, donâ€™t turn them into robots.
Which again all comes from rugby league!
I would love to see the power shift back to the players and see what the results would be: positive or negative?
While on the Reds, it must have been a bit frustrating for the Queensland crowd to see their team lose after trying so hard to make it back-to-back finals. But with the amount of injuries, it made it hard to go all the way.
To be honest, I donâ€™t think it would have made much difference either way. Sometimes even the crowd canâ€™t help get their team up.
The Reds were lucky to make the Semis. They werenâ€™t the same team as last year.
It was disappointing to hear another coach criticise McKenzie for putting Genia at 10. But what choice did he have?
It really highlighted the problem in Australian rugby: we lack depth in our reserve of players. Once Lucas was injured, there were no appropriate players left to take his place.
What is happening to building grassroots development and promoting the game to the wider public and the juniors?
I feel like a stuck record on this and your eyes may glaze over when you hear me saying this again and again, but mark my words: the future of Australian rugby is in trouble.
Still, as it stands, every country gets a team in the semis.
The Brumbies were very much like Adam Scott: they lead all the way, but then went into their shell when the heat came on.
Those are the times when youâ€™ve got to attack. As the old adage goes, attack really is the the best form of defense.
Never defend a lead or your team will struggle. But as a young team, they will great better over time. Thatâ€™s if they donâ€™t lose players to other unions.
But we have seen Hooper leaving already.
Hopefully lessons have been learned, so next year some Australian teams will be better prepared. Also, letâ€™s hope that coaches will allow the players to take back the game and start controlling things.
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