chickenfeet: (penalty)
I'm starting to think about next rugby season. I am going to be refereeing. That means job one is to be match fit by the start of May. I'm thinking that if I keep running four to five times/week, do a bit of skiing and maybe do some 'staircase' workouts, maybe twice per week, I should be in good shape to start getting in shape around the middle of March. I'll need to ensure that my weight stays below 215, preferably 210#. I'll also do indoor training with the Nomads once that starts.

Some time in March I'll hit the serious training schedule. As well as regular running. I'll work in fartleks and sprint drills. I want to get my 2.4km time below 11 minutes by the time fitness testing comes around. I'd also like to be inside 6s for 40m. (Yeah, I know, neither of these is very fast but I'm no spring chicken).

Philosophically, I think I'm going to be a less lenient referee. Reflecting on the games I reffed last year, watching higher level games and talking to other refs I have come to the conclusion that not much in the tackle zone happens by accident. Players on the wrong side of the ball can get out of there 95% plus of the time if they want to. Players can stay on there feet unless contact is involved. I think I'm going to go with close to zero tolerance in the tackle area.

I'm not sure what will happen with the coaching. I guess I'll do it if I can though I'm not sure it will be at all easy to fit in with work. Wed'll see I guess.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
Michael Harvey supplied me with another great set of photos of the boys. This time they are from the semi-final and consolation final on the 28th September at Fletcher's.

Here are some samples:

RGB_0051, originally uploaded by

RGB_0054, originally uploaded by

RGB_0144, originally uploaded by

And here is the full set.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
So we lost the semifinal by 7-5. We scored a try with no time left and the conversion kick went just under the bar. So it goes.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
One of the parents took a bunch of photos with a much better camera than ours. Here are three samples. There are 51 pictures in the Flickr set.

AUG_0181, originally uploaded by

AUG_0217, originally uploaded by

AUG_0188, originally uploaded by

chickenfeet: (rugby)
One of the parents took these:

chickenfeet: (rugby)
It was the U16 central divisional final. Win and we go to the provincial final four, lose and that's the end of the season. I had close to my ideal starting line up, by no means the norm in youth rugby given camp, family vacations, cottages, work etc. We started strong and stayed strong. Once we got a line break we diced them. Our defence; back row, midfield and outside, was rock solid. The forwards made sure we won our own ball and turned over a fair bit. Every time we got a line break we made seious distance and everal of our scores came from just putting really fast players into space. The only flaws were in the finer points of the game. We conceded too many penalties at the breakdown and our handling in the backs was just a touch pedestrian. Half a second more precision here and there and it would have been a massacre.

All in all, it was pretty impressive.

u16final_30, originally uploaded by

Lots more photos (courtesy of [ profile] lemur_catta) here
chickenfeet: (rugby)
Toronto Nomads 38 Toronto Saracens 0. Onto the Provincial Finals on September 6th/7th. Report to follow.

8 and 0

Aug. 16th, 2008 03:28 pm
chickenfeet: (rugby)
The Nomads U16 Boys closed out the regular season with a 56-0 win over Ajax 2nds to finish the regular season with a perfect 8 and 0 record. While no-one would claim that this was our toughest game of the season, not least because some of the Ajax boys were double shifting after a tough eastern division play off against the Barbs, it was a deeply impressive performance. On my watch the game lasted barely 45 minutes during which the boys ran in 10 tries. The tone was set in the first six minutes when clean possession from the forwards, slick handling by the backs and excellent support play saw us two tries up. Even after the half when we were playing something close to a second team the Nomads never let up. In fact the pace of the scoring increased as Ajax tired under the onslaught. The only possible criticism would be that the forwards tended to hang onto the ball when the wide route might have been even more productive.

Next weekend will see us play the divisional final though who against we don't yet know. A win then will take us to the provincial finals on September 7th and 8th.
chickenfeet: (penalty)
I couldn't find a ref for my U16 game today so i figured I'd have to do it which did not fill me with joy. Fortunately the Barbs were in pretty much the same boat so we traded and I reffed their U16 play off game against Brock and Khalil from the Barbs reffed my boys. I'm not sure who got the better deal. We were missing a number of key players and ground out a thoroughly scrappy 13-5 win against the Saracens. Still, that leaves us 7 and 0 with one game to play so we can't finish lower than second in the division. The game i reffed was a really good game of rugby. The Barbs recycling at the breakdown was really, really good and allowed them to set up 9 tries. It would have been a massacre if they hadn't been a bit sloppy in defence which allowed Brock to score six breakaway tries. The final was 51-34 and i had to run my ass off chasing the speedy litlle buggers all over the park. Still, a really fun game to referee.
chickenfeet: (penalty)
It was a long day. Again. 1030 saw my U16s play Brampton. Brampton were much better than we expected and we had to work really hard to grind out a win by two tries. It was a challenge to give some of my less talented players some game time but everybody played so FTW. If I haven't said it before (and I suspect I have) they are a fantastic bunch of young men. They play hard, they play clean and they play as a team.

The game I reffed (Brampton III vs Scottish III) was pretty good for a Marshall III game but unfortunately I had to take the players off after 13 minutes of the second half because of lightning. It did clear to allow the second and first team games to be played. I ran touch, miked up, for the first team game. It was a real seesaw game with 85 points scored. The Scottish finally ran out winners 51-34, Fourteen tries in the game!

It was past 6pm when I got home. 8.15am when I left.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
The boys done good. My U16s played Balmy Beach this morning. The beach, as expected, were a skillful and well drilled team. My boys played out of their skins. The forwards were particularly awesome but everyone played well. We put six tries on them and ran out 34-0 winners. On that kind of form there isn't a team in the province we couldn't beat.

My reffing gig went fine. The game had its moments but I kept the lid on it and both the players and I seemed to have a good time. It was a close one and finished as a 12-12 tie. I was being assessed in the first half and apparently I was doing really well. Inevitably, there's stuff to work on but I'm getting there. I got stuck with TJing the televised game again so lots of running today.

In less happy news, we did have a US of Asstastic moment. Ontario U16s were scheduled to play Midwest USA U16s tonight. Rugby Ontario did an ID check and found the US squad were mostly 18 and 19. Not only is this stupid and cheating, it's also dangerous. I wish it wasn't so utterly typical of my experiences with USA rugby.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
I was at Fletchers from 0930 to 1730. The Ui6s beat the Yeomen comfortably despite a misunderstanding about what the Yeomen had agreed to in terms of substitutions which meant that I couldn't balance up the playing time the way I wanted. It also wasn't an especially good tempered game but that perhaps was inevitable.

My refereeing assignment was actually pretty horrible. It was a bad tempered, ineptly played gam and I don't think I did a particularly good job either. It's really hard not to get caught up in the garbage that's going on. In the end it's clear that the dirtier side won but the cleaner side gave away so many stupid technical penalties that it was hard not to whistle them out of the game. I'm going to see tackle/ruck offences that take place right in front of me. Lacking a second set of eyes, I'm going to miss a lot of the off the ball stuff. No fun for anyone really.

My afternoon finished up with running touch for the Scottish vs Barbs first team game. It was a big game (1 plays 3 in the Premiership) and televised. The Barbs deservedly won and I think Joyce did a really good job refereeing. The only thing that marred the game was a brawl that pretty much came out of nowhere with only two minutes left in the game.

Despite having now eaten and taken on board huge quantities of fluids I am completely knackered. Did I mention it was hot? Really hot!
chickenfeet: (rugby)
I have a busy Saturday coming up. At 1030 my U16s play the York Yeomen. There were thirty kids at practice last night so we should be good for numbers. The July curse has arrived but not fatally by the look of it.

At 1330 I referee Yeomen 2nds vs Dragons 2nds. It's not ideal to have two games running with the same team but the logistics of being at Fletchers rather dictated this one. Both teams are low in their division so I'm expecting a rather messy game.

At 1500 I am running touch for the Aurora Barbarians vs, Toronto Scottish first team game. This is the big game of the afternoon. First plays third in the Marshall Premiership. It is also the Rogers televised game of the week hence the headline on this post. For those who might conceivably be interested it is being broadcast on Rogers channel 10 in Toronto on Sunday at 2pm. Of course I do realise that this channel is watched by three people and a hamster but it will match my previous rugby TV appearance which was made on the equivalent channel in Baltimore.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
The U16 played the Mississauga Blues last night at Fletchers. Again the turnout was good, especially for a mid week game. We had 31 boys dressed though we were a bit thin in some departments, notably the second row. We played well. We ended up 32-12 winners and everybody got some playing time.

There were some things to really like. The forwards worked well as a unit and outplayed their pack in all phases of the game. There was some good tackling close to the rucks and mauls and the kicking from hand was good. Our backs looked good when they got the ball out wide.

Not so good. Too much running the ball into traffic instead of looking for space. The backs missed too many first up tackles. The handling wasn't as assured as it might have been. Too many tight five forwards were lurking in the backline looking to run the ball. We don't need props lumbering from deep straight back into the defence. The outside backs weren't good at getting into positions to support the ball carrier nor were they quick enough to get involved at the breakdown when that was needed.

So, all in all, things to work on but from a pretty solid base.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
It was a long day. My U16 boys played their first game of the season at Crusaders. We had more than thirty boys dressed so managing the substitution flow was quite a challenge. I managed to get everybody some playing time while starting with my strongest XV and finishing up with my best XV, bar a couple of injuries. It was a good game. Both sides played good clean rugby and there were some decent skills on display. We ended up winning 18-10. The only sour note was, once again, an injury. One of my better backs went to hospital with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Then it was off to Fletchers for the Churchill Cup. England Saxons saw off Ireland 'A' 34-12 in a pretty entertaining game. The England backs threw the ball around and created some good scoring opportunities. The goal kicking of Ryan Lamb (2/8) was woeful though so I don't see the otherwise capable fly-half challenging for a place in the England first team. Nick Abendanon was outstanding at fullback.

cc2, originally uploaded by

Canada vs Argentina 'A' was a less satisfactory affair. There were far too many handling errors and a lot of negative play. For most of the game Argentina looked pretty comfortable and it was only after Fleck replaced Fairhurst at scrum half that canada began to spark and put Argentina under real pressure. It really shows the problems of Canadian rugby. The overseas professionals were not available (IRB fails again) and, partly as a result, we were unable to beat what was effectively a third string Argentine team.

cc6, originally uploaded by

More pictures on Flickr
chickenfeet: (rugby)
We had the kids out for the first training session last night. I had about twenty U16s which is pretty good as the high school season hasn't finished yet and most of the boys have exams too. They are a good bunch; very keen but we really have a lot of work to do. The general level of basic ball handling skills is really pretty low and I'm not expecting to see much better when we move onto tackling. Still, it's very early days and they seem prepared to work hard on the basics even if it is a bit repetitive.

I spent a bit of time with some of the U14s too. Boys that age mature not only at different rates but in different ways. Some stay 'athletic' as they grow while others become 'floppy'. I was working with one lad last night trying to show him how to maintain a body position that was safe and powerful. He was really struggling. The idea is to get shoulders and hips in line with one's back straight so that one can bend the knees and drive forward. It all turns on keeping one's spine straight. He kept dropping his head so that his spine began to curve. This is really dangerous because it exposes the neck and makes it likely that the player will jack knife head first into the ground. It also makes it impossible to transmit any power from the legs. I saw some of the other U14s taking similar positions at the breakdown. It's something we are really going to have to work on.

For myself, I'm still a bit sore from Sunday. I rode my bike to training last night which involved a pretty steep hill and that went OK. I ran fairly gently for twenty minutes this morning and that was OK too but my quads are very tight and sore. Generally I'm feeling much fitter though.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
We had over 60 boys and girls turn out for a coaching clinic with our new head coach today. A very respectable number of senior players also turned out to help.

I have to say that Drew is a brilliant coach; twice Ontario coach of the year and now Community Development officer for the ORU. I learned a lot, even about very basic things. Best thing of all, sixty kids had a fun work out on a beautiful sunny Sunday.

Here's three pictures. More on Flickr.

clinic6, originally uploaded by

clinic13, originally uploaded by

clinic27, originally uploaded by

chickenfeet: (rugby)
The rugby season definitely has a 'coming to the end' feel to it even though the seniors have five regular season games plus play offs and the U18s have maybe three more games. Numbers at U16/18 training have dropped off to the point that I suggested we move to Rosedale and train with the men. This worked a treat as the thirds are seriously short of players (normal by mid August) and were very glad to recruit some of the juniors.

This is of course all part of my cunning plan. The boys get to see how the men train and play. The coaches and selectors get to see what the boys can do. The juniors get to play a few 'real' games and get more involved with the club. Net result, with a bit of luck, more of the 'graduating' juniors come back to play senior rugby next year. Which is, in the last analysis, why, as a club, we put so many resources into our junior programmes.

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