With the second round of the Singer Schools Rugby League almost upon us can we take a moment to ask if we need to endure the scheduling of games that sees some teams have more than a month without a competitive match? The teams in segment IIA last played a competition match on or about the weekend of 26 March. While the Cup segment teams from IA last played on 8 April. That is a five week and three week break respectively for the teams that head into the second round this weekend.
This scribe is unsure why a five week break is really necessary. Could a bye week be put in place for the teams in segment IIA so they finish the first round within a week of the the teams in segment IA?
There must be some logic behind the scheduling that is not immediately apparent because the format and the fixture list has obviously been planned well in advance of the 24 February 2017 commencement with the last match from last years competition being played 18 June 2016. Have a look at the calendar and you will see that is 36 weeks. That is almost enough time to conceive a child and see them to the birthing processes. I am not suggesting that as an off season training regime but I am suggesting a lot can be achieved in 36 weeks, just ask a pregnant woman.
Do other rugby competitions have such a lengthy break?
Yes it does happen in other competitions. The Super Rugby competition takes a break for a month to entertain Northern hemisphere nations that travel south for the June test window. But many of those players continue to play Rugby during that month and it is on the international stage so their intensity increases instead of dropping away as it does when players only have training for five weeks. Even the Super Rugby break of a month is presently being reviewed and steps are being taken to play the competition from start to finish without the interruption.
Why should having a month off even matter to teams?
The reason is momentum and confidence. Teams that are playing well and teams that have a winning habit do not want to have even a week off. When a team has momentum there is an intangible element that coaches cannot buy and that takes weeks to develop. Momentum and confidence are both like a spell, some kind of secret magic that gives players the freedom and courage to express themselves. A special elixir that lets teams come back from impossible situations or dominate an opposition so comprehensively that it seems they have an extra player in both attack and defence.
Teams that are playing every week have an intensity about their training that runs the fine line between fight or flight. There is an anxiety that builds in the pit of the player’s stomach and the feeling only gets released on game day. Questions are asked during the game that you prepare for all week. Do you have the courage to do what is needed for your team? Will you play to your potential? What will the opposition bring to the game?
Players, coaches and teams all around the world understand that playing each week has the potential to bring about constant and gradual improvements. Yes there is a risk of injury and there is the possibility that players can be fatigued. This is where a good Strength and Conditioning coach plays a part in managing energy levels in season. Good S & C coaches maintain fitness levels and have energy levels peaking each week on game day.
So I humbly ask on behalf of all schoolboy players and coaches, all fans of our game and followers of their school colours, I ask the rugby Gods to please bless us with a schedule for next season that sees teams play without a five week break in between rounds one and two. Because we know the second round will deliver drama and excitement, upsets and heartache, triumph and disaster. The competition does not need the extra complication of having an unnecessary month between games.