The match against Leicester highlights the absolute need for clinical game management
Dai Young, his coaching team and players, will no doubt be spending a number of hours over the next few days scrutinising the DVD of Sunday’s defeat at Leicester.
Modern TV technology allows minute details to be picked apart from every possible angle, which allied with information provided by the GPS tracking units stitched into the players’ shirts, lets Young’s coaching team factor in physiological and bio-mechanical considerations..
They will focus on some obvious recurring problems. Top of this list, is the need to either improve the quality of the final pass, or reduce the probability of chances being wasted by being more patient. They need to start playing in the right areas off the pitch and not force low-percentage options. This is the most obvious evidence of what Young means when he says Wasps attacking play is not quite clicking; in layman’s terms they are trying to score too soon, rather than waiting for the opposition’s defensive structures to break down, as Wasps go through the phases.
Game Management Playing winning rugby at Premiership level is a strange mix of winning some enormous collisions and then possessing the ability to make a high percentage of split-second decisions correctly. It has been described as chess played by giants and it is this game management aspect of Wasps’ performance which is not yet fully firing.
The presence of a string of match-winners among their outside backs understandably tempts the key decision-makers in the back row and midfield to go wide, but when they are not selective enough in doing this. Wasps become very lateral, and easier to defend against.
Influencing what goes on in the players’ heads is the hardest aspect of coaching. In addition to helping them make good tactical decisions on-the-hoof, it also is the key to improving discipline, which was possibly the biggest factor in Sunday’s defeat at Welford Road. Both sides conceded too many penalties, but Wasps did so in bad parts of the field and lost all their hard-earned, second-quarter momentum as a result of repeatedly falling foul of referee Tim Wigglesworth’s whistle after the break.
Not many teams will win anywhere in the Premiership after conceding more than ten penalties, but emerging on top at Welford Road in this scenario is just about impossible.
George Smith has become an all-time great by living on the edge, but on Sunday he failed to establish where Mr Wigglesworth’s boundaries were set, consequently was pinged a number of times around the breakdown.
Eliminating this series of errors is what Wasps will focus on in the coming days and weeks.
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