Leave the “magic” to others, Wallabies
To soldier on in the face of denial seems now to have become the trademark of Australian Rugby and its first-born child, the Wallabies. Wise after the event, sure. But how many events does it take to wise up?
I wrote last week of the shaky linkages drawn between what is about to happen and ‘history’.
In exactly the same way, optimism about ‘young wonders’ and ‘motivation’ just doesn’t gel. In fact, too many (administrators, coaches, players and the assembly of paid commentators) are forever pushing ability beyond capability.
I suppose that they all mean well by showing their support and loyalty – and, of course, expertise.
But in the process, they are all saying nothing new and certainly not adding anything to inspire anyone.
Try these for size:
“O’Connor made his debut as an 18-year-old”
”Elsom is applying some pressure”
“The game is not absolutely gone” (at 20:0)
“They didn’t fall for it”
“It’s a psychological thing now”
“Pride is on the line”
”We just didn’t come away with the points”
“We put ourselves under pressure”
“..,Need a bit of magic”
“It was one of those nights”
“We gotta learn from this and build”
“That will be a big learning curve”
“We’ve got to move on quickly”
“Big moments can change the game”
“I still got belief”
… and there are many many more!
In my humble opinion, development of the Wallabies as a team is continually being weighed down by the unquestioning adherence to old ways that are reinforced by old words.
Lazy points of view only reinforce lazy play, ‘lazy’ judgments are those that bring about reactionary decisions and selections, poor tactical planning, glib sloganeering about an opposition, leadership (particularly on-field) that goes missing, and the absence of clever thinking that has the potential to make a difference.
Players, (and indeed, a waiting-to-be-thrilled audience), very soon become habituated to endless streams of repetitive instructions (and commentary), hours of boring drills, and conventional tactics.
To argue that players are (always) competing for selection is a nonsense when limited numbers available and well-paid contracts, are the reality.
To bring out the best in a team requires an adventurous approach for every game, changes that challenge players with something new. This is so important for ‘experienced’ players, whose style and thinking can often be ingrained.
Tactical planning must be able to change as the game flows; and significantly, to precisely take into account the capabilities of an opposition.
Sorry, “standing up to the opposition” and “having belief” just doesn’t cut it anymore, and “magic” should be left to stage performers at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.
George Shirling is the author of Exploding Sports Myths – a book that exposes the nonsense in some of our fondest notions about sport
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