Two weekends, two narrow defeats in matches we were well capable of winning. First, a trip to Nyon, and the rather unfortunate timing of playing on the same ground on the same day as Nyon1. To say their bench was packed with high-impact subs is an understatement, as the last 30 mins showed.
Still, teams learn best when they take responsibility for their failings, and RCL have discussed this frankly. The ability to close off the game, when we’re clearly the stronger, was missing. Letting an 11-point lead go in the last 6 mins. But, above all else, communicating across the defensive line about where best to place defenders. In all these cases, it’s essential to communicate: someone go down injured, and explain what you’re seeing. Poor allocation of forwards – too static amongst other forwards when it was Nyon’s back who were doing the damage – killed us.
Scoring 6 tries in 2 matches – 4 coming against opposition of the quality of Fribourg – was not something we would have expected to accompany 2 defeats. This past Saturday, RCL attacked with flair, and defended their line far better. But, sadly, it was the last 20 mins, in which we had the upper-hand, that RCL slumped tactically. This is an essential part of the game: what to do, when and where. We must communicate better: have a clear understanding amongst all 15 players about our direction.
Still, we should have shut them out far earlier. It took too long for us to realise our own potential: how dangerous we are in attack, and how others’ defenses are not necessarily all that tight. Self-belief, self-belief, self-belief.
The ongoing problem of risky, naive passes killed us. Slinging the ball over your shoulder, blind, as you crash to the ground in a tackle is not something you’d expect even an international player to do successfully. It must stop. Rucks must be won faster – especially when we’ve broken through their line. Part of that comes from the tackled player placing the ball well out of the reach of the opposition; part comes from the first support player sometimes taking it upon himself to just pick-and-go. And reactions: it’s time to simply assume that our break-away is not going to make it to the line. What then?
Overall, taking responsibility – a tap penalty, a pick-and-go when you think the ball could otherwise be lost, a quick lineout – must never be criticised at RCL. Too few players stand up and take charge – and, most of all, with the urgency that rugby demands.
In reflection, this must be seen in the greater context of losing to a team of the level of Fribourg. We were bitterly disappointed, and that is something that RCL better get used to, so that expectation for improvement and success remain high.
Now, onwards to Lausanne – to give Alba a torrid time!
Nyon2 Man of the Match: Sven
Fribourg Man of the Match: Stew