This is a sign of progress and things to come: bitter disappointment at not having beaten Bern. Let’s consider: this team destroyed us by 8 tries to one 12 months ago, 5-52. For large spells of the game, RCL took it to Bern and disrupted a strong opposition. Our line was well defended and our defensive line was solid and consistent. Across the pitch, we pressured them to making some awful passes in midfield, and their pack quickly decided not to take us on up front. A nice compliment.
In this game, the forwards produced a fine game, while the backs found it hard to consistently put together moves. It’s a welcome change, where RCL have often struggled up front and produced too little ball for their backs. A weak, error-ridden pack game is a terribly difficult thing to solve; our backs, on the other hand, simply need more time to “click.” Rather than poor individual performances, this was a classic case of not working well as a unit. Time will sort that out – starting Tuesday. More rigorous coaching of the backs is needed, bringing along the newer guys especially. With so many positional changes and novice players, a better clarification of the roles of each player – backs and forwards – is needed.
While the pack’s pick-and-go is done well, there is an over-reliance on it. We need to bring in more dynamic, fast play from the forwards in the open. An example to emulate is the Bern fat-boy balls off the rucks and mauls: RCL need to adopt this style of phases, with forwards screaming for the pop ball from the scrumhalf. We have to move away from our slower, more obvious fat-boys, taken from standing. Running blind, running open, running in pairs – this is how we will better grind down unfit packs.
Overall, there is no lack of enthusiasm and courage in this squad, and the forwards especially stood up strong and tall to a solid opposition pack. Sadly, the forwards’ tackling in the open play is still too high and weak. When it comes to pick-and-go, fat boys and the backs kicking for space or touch, this is an exercise in finding the balance between what is needed, when and where. With the pack taking increasing leadership over the game – and not simply waiting for scrumhalf instruction – this balance will be easier to find.
Once players speak up each Tuesday, discussing issues and problems they saw, this team will continue to improve.
RCL 10-20 Bern
Men of the Match: Belushi & Mathias
Twat of the Match: Masi (more laundry crimes)
“The front row is an immensely technical place where brain and and brawn collide; it is one which has fascinated me since I played a prop whose shorts caught fire during a game as a consequence of carrying a light for his half-time fag.” – Bill Lothian, Edinburgh Evening News