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Thursday, August 28, 2014

ITM Cup 2014 Round 3 Video Highlights

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Waikato vs Taranaki

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Canterbury vs Northland

The All Black Jockey Models

The All Blacks who are sponsored by underwear brand Jockey look awkward at the Resene Designer Selection Show by Woman's Day.  Do you think these guys are good models or should they stick to playing rugby?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Importance of a Good Number 10

The position of first five eighth, fly half, standoff, whatever you call him, the man in the Number 10 jersey is very important.  The ITM Cup is an obvious example of the importance of having a good first five eighth who can kick for territory, is an accurate goal kicker, can run at the defensive line, call and run the backline moves and make their fair share of tackles.

It is interesting looking around the different ITM Cup teams and seeing who are wearing the Number 10 jerseys.  Wellington and Counties aren't as strong as long as last season with injuries and a lack of depth in the Number 10 jersey costing them.  Ironically, some of the best first five eighths in the competition are in the ITM Cup Championship, with Lima Sopoaga Wellington's loss being Southland's gain, while Ihaia West and Hayden Parker are both quality first five eighths.  Baden Kerr has been struggling with injury for Counties Manukau, while Wellington are missing Sopoaga and the injured Riki Flutey as they try to repeat their dominating form from 2013.

Players of the calibre of Lima Sopoaga, Ihaia West and Hayden Parker can dictate terms and dominate for a team, making them jewels in the crown of their teams, especially in the ITM Cup Championship.  Auckland and Tasman have quality first fives in players like Gareth Anscombe and Marty Banks who as Super Rugby players, are classy at ITM Cup level.  Waikato and Taranaki have the McKenzie brothers who are both a bit raw yet, but could be good long term options, although they are a bit inconsistent at the moment.

When recruiting players, you can do much worse than what Southland did by recruiting Lima Sopoaga.  You want to make sure that any penalty in the opposition's half is a sure three points.

Is the Number 10 the most important player in any rugby team?  

Who is the best first five eighth in the ITM Cup?  I think Lima Sopoaga is the most influential with his kicking game important to the Stags success and his ability to spark his backline being crucial.  West and Parker are also great, but West especially has quality around him.

Would You Rather Have Your Team Win The Ranfurly Shield Over Summer or ITM Cup?

Would you rather that your team won the Ranfurly Shield and retained it over summer or won the ITM Cup Premiership or Championship?

I have seen the magic that the Ranfurly Shield can bring to a province.

There is far more history in the Ranfurly Shield with it being great seeing teams win it for the first time in 50 years.  The ITM Cup hasn't been around anywhere near as long.   

Because only one team can win the ITM Cup Premiership and ITM Cup Championship then in many ways the Ranfurly Shield is greater as it means that any team can win the Ranfurly Shield by having one good game to win it.  The ITM Cup has become a bit boring with Canterbury winning the ITM Cup Premiership annually and so it means that the Ranfurly Shield is a more viable option meaning that even teams like Northland and Manawatu can win it.

The Ranfurly Shield also seems to draw massive crowds, although so do the ITM Cup finals.

Rugby Research Kicks Blood Tests Into Touch

Dr Nick Draper

Rugby players who suffer injuries similar to car crash victims while playing the sport have been offered a better chance of recovery thanks to research led by the University of Derby.

Professor Nick Draper, Head of Life Sciences at the University of Derby, and PhD student Angus Lindsay, have designed a way of testing the impact of what is a physically tough game on the players themselves.

The project – a collaboration between the University of Derby and University of Canterbury in New Zealand – has been investigating the impact on Canterbury rugby players for two years, working with researchers at the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Canterbury Health laboratories.

Steve Gieseg, Associate Professor of Biological Studies at the University of Canterbury, who led the New Zealand branch of research, said: “Our team found levels of damage occurring in Canterbury rugby players after games which were in the ranges expected from serious trauma.

“The level of damage was greater than could be predicted from GPS (global positioning system) – http://www.derby.ac.uk/news/notes-to-media-editors – or video analysis. The measurements also show that some players could heal from this damage remarkably quickly.”

The researchers developed a set of non-invasive and stress-free biochemical tests to measure the level of damage occurring in rugby players using only urine and saliva, enabling them to investigate 44 samples per game (before and after the game for each player), without the need to draw large amounts of blood for tests.

The international research team optimised and refined proven measurements of stress-load while treating the players’ data as if they were car accident victims.

Professor Draper said: “Our research measured several bio-chemicals in the urine and saliva to gain a global view of how players responded to the physical stress of an individual game.

“For instance, when a player damages a muscle, a bio-chemical marker of this damage can be traced in the urine using high-performance liquid chromatography. We can then interpret this to examine the extent of such damage for an individual player.

“During the research, the measurements tested the level of muscle damage, inflammation, immune resistance and mental stress. The measurements can be used to assist coaches and medical staff to manage players’ recovery and training during different phases of competition.”

The findings form a substantial part of the research by Angus Lindsay and Professor Draper, which has been sponsored by St George’s Hospital in Christchurch and part-funded by a private donation.

Former All Black Hooker Andrew Hore Joins The Southland Stags Squad

Former All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore is set to come out of retirement as cover for the Southland Stags in the ITM Cup.  The Stags lost experienced hooker Jason Rutledge who suffered a career ending injury, but will only play for the Stags if existing younger hookers in Tuapati and Halaholo, get injured.  No doubt Andrew Hore is still good enough to play ITM Cup rugby and has been called in as a favour to former team mate and Stags skipper Jamie Mackintosh.

Is calling Andrew Hore into the Stags squad a good move?  I think so, although it is good that they are giving the young guys a chance first.
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