Coaching Association of Canada

#WorldCupWeekly with Rugby Canada

OCTOBER 8TH, 2015 | OCTOBER 1ST, 2015 | SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2015

October 8th, 2015

So close, yet so far…

By Graeme Moffat "Moff", Rugby Canada Skills Coach

It was a devastating end to the Rugby World Cup for our team. I watched the match against Romania from home today (October 6th), I returned home to Calgary after the France match to be with my better half as we are expecting our 2nd child. It was certainly more nerve-racking and stressful than being in the stadium with the team!

The France game (October 1st) was the most physical game of the tournament for us. Being pitch side and hearing the impacts, I knew that we would be sore the following day; the GPS data certainly supported my thoughts. The game has certainly moved from a contact sport to a collision sport. By the end of that match against France, we were left with only 3 professional players on the field playing against the 6th best team in the world and runner-up in the last Rugby World Cup.

The short time between matches certainly had an impact in our preparation. Three top-level games in 11 days is certainly not very forgiving on the body. Following the match against France, only 16 of the 31 players on the squad were fit for training as we got under way preparing for the clash against Romania. Thankfully, we had a fantastic medical team who worked hard between games to keep the players in top shape.

This Rugby World Cup has had a cumulative TV audience of 4.2 billion people and has been broadcasted in 205 countries. As for our match against Romania, the world witnessed some fantastic rugby, particularly in the 1st half. It wasn’t just fantastic for Canada, but in my opinion it was some of the best attacking rugby to date in the World Cup. It was fast, dynamic, aggressive, and from a spectators point of view, exciting to watch.

Our team played with confidence, a willingness to attack from anywhere, and the belief that they could win. That is a testament to the environment that Head Coach Kieran Crowley has created within the group, and his athlete-centred approach has ensured a fantastic culture and environment throughout the campaign.

We have competed with some of the top teams in World Rugby including a spirited performance against Ireland, a narrow 23-18 loss to Italy, a small 9 points deficit to France with 14 minutes to go, and this most recent heartbreaking loss to Romania, 17-15. Without a doubt, the team has benefited enormously from being together for an extended period of time. I am incredibly proud of the team and many elements of our performances.

The margins between winning and losing are so small at this level, and with more experience, our results can be improved. One has to wonder: How much better could we be with a professional domestic game?


October 1st, 2015

Process, Process, Process.....

By Graeme Moffat "Moff", Rugby Canada Skills Coach

If we get the process right, then the result will take care of itself.

As a squad we were very disappointed with the outcome of Saturday’s game against Italy. We were within 2 points going in to the final 2 minutes of the game and creating another upset at this year’s Rugby World Cup. Unfortunately we lost 23-18.

Many aspects of our performance had improved significantly from the Ireland game, which was pleasing. Increased number of line breaks from 7 to 12, 100% line outs, tackle percentage up to 85%, and possession up over 50%.

The squad has been together for almost 80 days, so it was nice to be able to spend some time with family and friends after Saturday’s match. Our players are incredibly honoured and proud to represent Canada, and are extremely grateful for the sacrifices that their loved ones make for them to compete at this competition.

This week, we have had a short turn around with only 5 days before we play France (ranked 7th) on Thursday evening in Milton Keynes, 8.00pm kick off, a country we have only ever beaten once.

Whilst there has been a greater emphasis on recovery physically, readiness is a state of mind and our players are excited to play. On Tuesday, we had the privilege of attending Leicester Grammar School’s assembly and spending time with the students. It was a fantastic opportunity to share why we love the game and share the rugby values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, and respect. Not only is this great for generating interest in the tournament, it is great for our players, keeps us humble, refreshes us, and reminds us that how we perform echoes beyond our time. An afternoon like Tuesday was as valuable as any recovery session in my opinion.

Collectively this week we have narrowed our focus to what we believe will have a significant impact on our performance. Clarity, accuracy, and intensity will be key for the game against France.

As Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face and then instincts take over.” The 75+ days preparation and sacrifices have been vital to ensure that we are developing better habits for when the pressure comes on from one of the top teams in the world. We need to focus on our key functional roles for the betterment of the team and Canada.

September 23rd, 2015

Get Bitter or Get Better?

By Graeme Moffat "Moff", Rugby Canada Skills Coach

Following our 50-7 defeat to Ireland in our opening pool game of the Rugby World Cup there are many positives to take away.

Two critical moments in the game cost us dearly: 19 points were conceded after we lost Captain Jamie Cudmore to the sin bin due to an unnecessary penalty, and a further 21 were allowed during another 10 minute spell in the 2nd half. Going into the game, Ireland was ranked 5th in the world, Canada 18th. In the end, their superiority shone through.

Following Sunday’s focus on review and recovery, everything this week is about us preparing to perform against Italy. We’re optimistically looking forward to the game and we aim to rise to our potential. The players are incredibly motivated to get better and take ownership of the week ahead. The challenge for us is to always improve, to always get better. I joined the squad late as Skills Coach but I was immediately impressed with the learning environment and focus on personal development. The collaboration in the team between coaches and players is very evident.

“Clarity precedes mastery.” – Robin Sharma

Growth doesn’t just happen; you must be intentional and focused. Each player in the squad has an Individual Performance Plan which is the foundation for their development. One of the tools that we use in a build up to a test match is a weekly performance plan incorporating what the players will focus on physically, mentally, technically, and tactically. Using these tools gives us confidence knowing that we have completed all the work required in the buildup. We track individual skills, unit skills, and key relationships. The fundamental skills that are trained during the week depend on the particular focus of each team session. Ensuring the players understand their roles within the team is critical, rugby is not a complicated game, but it is complex.

Below is an example of how we prepare as a team and how we will prepare for the Italy match this weekend (September 26th).

Build Up to Italy:

Sunday: Review, recovery, leadership meeting with senior players and coaches
Monday: Preview, light rugby session, gym session
Tuesday: Rugby session, gym session
Wednesday: Day off, refresh
Thursday: Train to win session
Friday: Captains run, player led
Saturday: Canada (18th) vs. Italy (15th)