RCL Men played the Swiss U20s Saturday, and got a tough test out of it. Losing 4 tries to nil to a well-drilled team containing many Ligue A and Ligue B players, RCL showed plenty of promise.
There were several omissions, and a few guys playing out of position, or there for the first time, so that must be kept in mind when looking at the score. Overall, the commitment was without question. The forwards – without an established hooker – fought hard against a large pack with a solid scrum; this was a good preparation match for this weekend, and nobody should be under any illusions about the pack they will face Saturday. The backs, unfortunately, saw little of the ball, as the game was played largely up-front.
Good points: the forwards stuck at it in high temperatures, with a large weight differential; rucking was improved, with better discipline in giving away penalties; as the game went on, the timing and calmness of pick-and-go improved; also later in the game, the pack made good breaks in the loose, and the subsequent rucking was controlled; several backs, many playing together for the first time, made great breaks.
Need for improvement: while improved, still plenty to do in terms of giving away penalties in rucks (for over-the-top and not releasing the ball-carrier); support for the man breaking away was often poor, with too many spectators and too few men on the shoulder; under pressure, many passes went awry where holding on to the ball and going to ground was safer; lineouts – with an experienced hooker – and scrums are, as ever, to improve; and general support for the man on the ball – especially when catching.
Overall, the tone of the game will improve with cooler thinking and a more conservative approach under pressure. Off-the-shoulder passes are improving, but first and foremost the ball must be retained: taking the ball to ground and setting up a ruck is always a good option. This team will build confidence and support play will improve, leading to the player on the ball knowing that he can handle pressure situations.
The numbers are training are great, and players are improving all the time. We need to continue building better communication – both on the pitch and off. With a large squad for this season, we will establish ourselves as a solid Ligue B team.