Are the new ELV’s changing the conditioning emphasis for rugby?
There is no doubt that the introduction of the ELV’s has sparked much controvesy and has resulted in many coaches being outspokenly negative about them and their influence on the game. Two coaches whom I respect greatly, namely Eddie Jones and Heyneke Meyer have both recently stated their dissaproval of the ELV’s and what they feel is their negative impact to the game.
It has been clear that the ELV’s have changed the game tactically considerably, and unfortunately for lovers of the running game, has seen a significant increase in the amount of kicking taking place. Lineout attacking options are limited and early stats are showing in this years S14 that setting up attacking rucks are high risk with the level of defences around and the varied ELV breakdown law interpretation by referees. The result, more kicking, especially from the first few attacking phases. The stats have again been in favour of sides with the better kicking game winning games and hence according to current trends if the ELV’s remain, this increased kicking pattern is set to continue.
From a conditioning perspective this could possibly also result in a re-look at how to prioritise ones training emphasis. What happens when the amount of kicking increases in a game? Firstly there will be less breakdown contests and tackles made as territory is attempted to be gained via kicking and not running the ball back and setting up phases. Less counter attacking via running the ball back will occur as the kick back and chase option is being preferred. Less mauling and driving off lineouts means less close quarter contact and wrestling type situations happening. The nature of the type of running and activity occuring during the games will start to change too as less high intensity anaerobic type activities will occur per game to be replaced by more aerobic type running patterns such as falling back to retrieve kicks, longer kick chases straight down the field, players stuck in the middle of the aerial ping pong drifting “aerobically” back and forth between kicks for longer periods, etc. Less rucking, wrestling, mauling, tackling, driving, short explosive bursts into rucks to set up and defend phases etc.
It would be very interesting to analyse the conditioning relevant stats (tackles made, high intensity running meters, collisions, work:rest ratios and intensties, etc) at the end of this years S14 compared to under the old laws to see if indeed there is a significant enough change to the conditioning requirements of the game to warrant a change in conditioning emphais from anaerobic dominant to increaed aerobic training components?
I suppose only time will tell.
Steve Mac (RugbyIQ)