Lighting the Candle

Lighting the Candle

Colin Simmonds



Format: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
Number of Pages: 164
ISBN: 978-3-99064-735-6
Release Date: 19.11.2019
Crazy about rugby but frustrated at the modern game with its boring emphasis on pre-planned plays, gym sessions and a lack of interest in speed, creativity and running rugby? Then you should read Colin Simmonds’s ‘Lighting the Candle’ to bring your rugby playing and watching back to life.
CHAPTER ONE
WHY THIS BOOK? AN INTRODUCTION


‘The first step to getting anywhere
is deciding you’re not willing
to stay where you are.’
(Anonymous)



‘Life has no meaning except in
terms of responsibility.’
(Reinhold Niebuhr)



There are many ‘books on rugby’ so what is the purpose of this one?

Why should you pick this up and while away a few PRECIOUS hours reading it?

This book is not a coaching manual, although it does provide hints and guidance that are aimed at pointing coaches in the right direction to ensure that they coach the game to be played in what we, the authors, feel is the right way!

It isn’t a referee’s manual, but it does offer opinions and thoughts on how they too can best enable the game.

It isn’t an ‘A to Z’ guide to playing rugby union, but it is a blueprint as to how we can best play the game.

Neither is it a law book, but again it provides pointers to referees as to what and how to adjudicate. Last but not least, it is designed for spectators and parents to really enjoy this great game!

We, the authors, are two ex-rugby players who operated at decent levels of the game and who today, watch a lot of rugby that spans differing levels of performance, from Premiership and Internationals to amateur and school’s rugby. During our preliminary writing discussions, a belief emerged between us that we were witnessing dangerous signs of terminal decline in the game of rugby union! That is a huge statement and one we felt required explanation and proposed remedies.

You will have noticed that we have entitled the book ‘Lighting the Candle’. Originally lighting a candle was a long-held practice in many cultural, family and faith traditions. The practice is common across international borders and societies. The Chinese for example state that, ‘it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’. Lighting candles can bring serenity, focus and comfort to participants. It helps meditative thought when a person wishes to meditate on a thought or idea but lacks the ability to form the appropriate words to express themselves, lighting a candle is a traditional way to show the intensity of his or her thoughts and feelings. It is also described as an expression of support, where groups of people have taken up the practice of lighting candles to show support for many causes. The practice, when done by large numbers of people, helps build a sense of solidarity for the movement, as well as raise awareness regarding the cause. The practice began to mark a memory of a lost loved one and it is a centuries-old practice. The practice gives the candle lighter a specific time to reflect on the deceased, as well as to pray or meditate on their relationship with the loved one.

Obviously, the game is nowhere near as hopeless as that yet, but our concerns are real and considered. The book is a starting point for ‘Expressing the need for solidarity behind invigorating and revising the great game of rugby union’, in order to bring the game back to life. The book has been constructed to serve as a stimulant, a pointer and as a debating forum, providing an opportunity to take our views, consider them and thereafter debate them with our friends, family and colleagues.

If the majority of followers are happy with the game as it is played at present, then our concern is that we will see less youngsters being introduced to the game and the game itself being characterised by body armour, interminable time outs, thoughtless collisions, acres of space being wasted and individual skills rarely being evidenced.

It is also fair to say that another motivation for creating this book has been prompted by our experiences in the world of business. It has been written on the back of a number of business initiatives that have been successfully used in various consultancy assignments such as:

Setting strategic focus;
Creating relevant and deployable business plans; and
Most of all, solving the eternal people puzzle. How do business leaders motivate, focus and deploy the human resources at their disposal?

All of these critical success topics have been included in carrying out various successful assignments that have been experienced, engaged in and deployed by SIMMERGY Ltd.

Organisations such as SIMMERGY Ltd. can give the required personnel the capabilities and, most importantly, the mentality and positive thinking to change the game for the better – to ensure that it moves onwards and upwards in a satisfactory and enjoyable format for all concerned.

Using SIMMERGY Ltd. as our commercial vehicle has provided a unique business perspective to peer into the game and its associated cast. It has enabled us to write this book about our rugby beliefs, including our keen desire to arrest any decline, real or imagined, through the identification and acknowledgment of the failings in today’s game; and to provide insights and possible solutions on those things that can and need to be done, to rectify and deliver the game’s values back to what they were always intended to be.


However, we are far from advocating a complete overhaul of the game. No that is decidedly not what is required! This is not forcing a draconian review on the game either, but we do believe that a few deft touches on the tiller by players, coaches and legislators will help the game develop for the benefit of all.

There are many messages to the game and some of them are key and more important than others! For example, ‘less is more’ is an important message; as is, ‘don’t over saturate the calendar’ and ‘don’t make the game more or overly complicated’ … keep it simple and competitive and a thrill to play in, referee and watch, – that’s what we want and what this book was motivated by!

We believe that it is necessary to skim swiftly through the primary elements or essential foundation of the game, in order to provide positive suggestions as to how the game of rugby union can improve, for the greater fulfilment and for the enjoyment of everyone associated with it, as well as, hopefully, providing sufficient motivation to attract a new or wider audience into the game, primarily as spectators but also perhaps as players and officials? We also hope that it will provide some insight into the mind of the casually interested spectator, so as to develop his or her understanding to enable the gaining of a more rounded perspective from the spectacle.

This book is for those who care about the game; for those who desire to understand more about the game and for those who are ambitious to do more for the game. What we have tried to create in the following pages, are positive suggestions as to how the game of rugby can improve for the benefit of all associated with it. It is accepted that ‘improve’ is a relative term. In this context it is the medium through which all of us can experience increased fulfilment and enjoyment from the game.

Furthermore, it is to wrestle firmly with the issues of today, in order to secure the future of the game for our children, our children’s children and beyond.
Throughout the book, the game of rugby union is described either as a whole or in its constituent parts. Included are creative ideas for developing, refreshing and improving coaching in order to make the game more exciting to play and to watch, as well as being safer for our children to play.

We critique the often, unnecessary, tinkering with the laws of the game aimed at making fundamental changes. This being especially relevant, as we believe that what will genuinely result in change, is a mindset and attitude shift, to building rugby union into a game of skill and enterprise, not a game of attrition and collision.

This latter statement is effectively the crux of our proposition. We witness World Rugby trying to bring about positive change, but their actions are muddled, they are often confusing and are often on collision course with the initiative released previously. A classic example of this is the reduction of the international calendar, closely followed by some three-year cycle of a Test Rugby competition.

Controversial issues are discussed, from the occasional lack of enforcement of the laws to illustrating the skills and the capabilities that are required to develop players, so that they can enjoy and deliver the fun that the game, has, should and can provide.

This book contains something for all manner of people; from experienced rugby aficionados to young people just starting to know the game; from the, often puzzled, spectator, who seeks to share in the ethos and camaraderie that the game gives in spades, right through to the experienced observer – both fervent and casual. It is for players and coaches at all levels; for parents and teachers; for the game’s lawmakers and enforcers; for committee members and for sponsors and the media. Indeed, there is even something here for frazzled business managers, wondering how best to motivate and to challenge their people!
We have designed the book for either continuous reading from beginning to end, or, for selecting specific subjects, of particular interest to the reader, wherever they might be located in the book, to dwell on. The reader should be able to move in and out of the book at will and with ease. We also believe that we should explain things concisely and in such a way that it puts our thoughts and our ideals into the context of the game (plus the many “games within the game”) that we hold dear for the future of rugby union.

Above all; it provides ample content to stimulate the necessary continuity of discourse among readers.

It is our ambition and our desire for all potential readers to be encouraged by our insistence upon:

Positive thinking;
Stimulating creativity in the utilisation of possession;
Applying awareness to the use of width and space;
Correlating techniques of offloading and the positioning of support players;
Understanding the opportunities better that are associated with set piece possession;
Introducing lateral thinking and peripheral vision as vital personal skills; and
Developing the right attitude and approach to training, playing and watching.

As far as we are concerned, these are the key essential ingredients to great rugby, not just any old rugby, but great rugby.

We do address some of the more ‘controversial’ issues of the day – such as the much-discussed aspects of the set scrum, contact on receiving the high ball, the angle of a forward pass, and the involvement of the television match official (TMO). These aspects are all observed, analysed and solutions are proposed.
It is said by some that we live in an age of acceptable mediocrity, where an average performance is acclaimed to be of a higher standard than it actually is. Relating to rugby, this can be dangerous territory as we are perhaps comparing the game at different stages in its modern development over, say, the previous forty years.

There are too many variables applying to this debate (levels of fitness and finance are but two), but it is important that the general concept of standards as applied to, say, teaching, playing and spectating is scrutinised. So many areas within the game overlap one another when debating what the acceptable standards are that are applicable to the game being played at any given time.

Do we applaud that which is expected and give the players involved a false sense of achievement? Or do we remain mute and have the players long for some encouragement? We will discuss this.

Is this the age of ‘collision’ in rugby? Is ‘Collision City’ our citadel of satisfaction? Some love it, others hate it. Does it define a ‘modernist’ approach (along with ‘acceptable mediocrity’ and the law changes in the scrum)? For many good reasons it is essential that rugby’s standards are raised. We only have to look at the number of parents who are worried about what’s going to happen to their child in a collision to understand the need for clarification on this issue.

There is nothing wrong with seeking excellence – it is arguably the route towards at least acquiring acceptability. Parents of young players are looking for protection and a safe playing environment to be the hallmark of the game’s standards. There is direct conflict between this and the type of game coached and played by the majority of its participants. This is discussed with reasoned argument.

Spectators, supporters and sponsors should be keen to be involved in the game’s development and the lawmakers have a huge responsibility to all involved in the game to satisfy our appetite for greater enjoyment and fulfilment from the game we love.



CHAPTER ONE SUMMARY

The aim of this book is not to create discord,
but rather to promote positive thinking.

Will we succeed?

Well, we shall see, please read on …!

SIMMERGY Ltd.




CHAPTER TWO
THE GAME’S FOUNDATION
POSITIONS AND POSITIONING

‘Position yourself well enough and
circumstances will do the rest.’
(Mason Cooley)


The game of rugby has been renowned for its ability to accommodate all physical shapes and sizes, wide degrees of physicality and fleetness of foot or otherwise – up to recent times.

The coming of the professional game and arguably, the modern-day preconception of ‘collision’ as opposed to the general characteristics surrounding the game’s definition as that of a ‘contact’ sport has required all players to be almost of optimum strength, to both give and take the hard knocks; now, apparently, the significant feature of today’s game. This is, more often than not, displayed by the physical bulk of players – forwards and backs.

So, what has all this to do with players’ positions and positioning in a rugby team?

Put simply, it means that players today at most levels are expected to multitask no matter their position – or, more to the point, their ability and their skill set (or their lack thereof!). They have to put in the hits and (with the protection padding aiding them) they have to take the hits, whatever their position. Yes, in times gone by, all players were required to tackle, but most players did it the way they were taught, around the legs, and usually a tackle was made by only one player – not two; one below the waist and another above.

So, physical strength per se is everything and certainly in the professional game much time has to be spent in the gym in preparation – usually on weights. It is our prognosis that perhaps ‘gym work’ has overtaken all other aspects of being ready, conditioned and prepared to play rugby. One hears, unfortunately, of teenage players suffering injury for various reasons as they overwork with weights and strengthening. Coaches and teachers need to take heed!

This backdrop of strength allows all fifteen players to be involved in the majority of actions within a game – we have props popping up outside the fly half to take a pass and they are expected to have the particular rugby sense to decide correctly what to do with the ball; and threequarters receiving the ball with little option (yet total expectation by support players) to drive into towering opponents and lay the ball back expertly.

The skill factor required in offloading and setting up a ruck or maul is essential, in order to retain possession. Hence, multitasking is no bad thing as long as it is not to the detriment of the standard of performance witnessed by the paying spectator. Alas, it often is! A prop in midfield, through no fault of his own, will not be able to maintain the speed of movement and, indeed the accuracy of passing, that is required to utilise space and width, as compared with a back – because, notwithstanding what has been said above, and with particular reference to ninety percent of players playing the game, they are not similar physical specimens and, more significantly, their mental attitude and aptitude are different – as we will now see when examining the respective positions in a rugby team.

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