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Physical imposition rugby – the Sydney University system

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cyclopath

Stirling Mortlock (74)
Staff member
Yeah but I also think other clubs have started putting a bit more effort (particularly financially) into their top two grades in order to bring themselves up to a level Uni had been running with for years.

Its whether they can sustain it (again: financially) that is the question.

A small anomaly on the equation of Uni versus everyone else is that Cheika is openly challenging players to come from anywhere - so its not like people are just going to Uni to get a Waratahs cap any more.

Slight effect, but present.
Interesting. I recall the orthodoxy a few years back was that Uni was heinous and must be stopped, with a small few suggesting others should aim to go to that level and match them. I won't try to rationalise all the disparate sides of the argument.
I reckon it's been a little of the first, but more of the second that has seen them come back to the pack.
Ultimately, it's good to see the quality of the comp overall rising, and the race more open.
 

Pfitzy

David Wilson (68)
They ARE heinous. But its unlikely they could be stopped with their available resources. They made the decision to run it like a business, and the only way to beat them is to join them in that pursuit.

All the other clubs could do was try to break the bank keeping up with them. And make no mistake: Shute Shield has broken several clubs - look at Gordon going from solid mid-tablers to riding Penrith hard to avoid the wooden spoon.

I see it in Subbies all the time: The clubs that are big and powerful stay up in the top divisions. Smaller ones get a sponsor on board, have a great run, then the money dries up and they flutter back down to with the rest.

The NRC could cause a massive reshuffle to all the levels below it as the new reality sets in: rugby can't run on wishes and unicorns farting rainbows any more.

Shame really, as every day sees us move toward an American model of only pros playing the sport, and the rest of us playing touch footy.
 

Bruce Ross

Ken Catchpole (46)
@Bruce Ross, The above statements were made at the end of Season 2010. From my observations of the Sydney Uni televised games this year, they seem to have been less physically imposing, but appear to have been more reliant on their aerobic fitness to run other teams down.

Has there been a change in training and S&C philosophy at Uni, or do you think that the other clubs developed their own equivalent of physical imposition rugby in the intervening 4 seasons?

S&C coaches at all levels seem to have become a lot more "professionial" in their craft over the last few years, along with improvements in sports science (and not just the Stephen Dank version of sport science).
Thank you, Huge for drawing attention to what for me at least was a very interesting extended discussion.

I would agree that there appears to have been "a change in training and S&C philosophy at Uni".

For me the two great Sydney Uni Grand Final appearances of the present century were in 2010 and 2013. The 2010 game was the trigger for this thread. I remember it as an absolutely clinical exposition of Physical Imposition rugby. One aspect I remember very clearly was the fact that the back three of the Uni team consisting of Julian Huxley, Pete Betham and Alfie Mafi IIRR, although I think there was another who played there for part of the game, consistently ran any ball kicked to them back into the contact zone where their forwards were waiting to take over.

The 2013 side was undoubtedly the best team I have ever seen in Uni's colours. It was a wonderful blend of players who so obviously enjoyed playing together. By then the Uni style had moved away from the physical imposition approach although clear elements of it were still identifiable.
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wamberal

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
I'm interested in whether they still have the same S&C philosophy and practices that "enables players to do heavy strength training year round." That seemed to be a foundation stone underpinning the strategy described in this thread by @Bruce Ross.


Interested to note that Bruce did not answer this point.


Conventional wisdom used to be that heavy resistance work should be done before the season, not during it,
 
T

Train Without a Station

Guest
Conventional wisdom also used to be that if you stopped training, muscle would turn to fat and that putting on size will make you slow.
 

wamberal

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
Conventional wisdom also used to be that if you stopped training, muscle would turn to fat and that putting on size will make you slow.


Geez, when I first played grade I ate a steak for breakfast on game day.

And we were told not to drink water on game day. No wonder I wasn't much chop.

Kenny Catchpole told me in later years that on game day he had a normal lunch with his folks, just whatever they were eating.
 

Hugh Jarse

Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
In the discussion on pages 1-3 of the thread, @Bruce Ross pointed out that having a S&C programme that enabled them to do heavy strength training all year round was a key point of difference (in 2010) to the other clubs approaches and this then enabled Uni to be able to play a physical imposition style of rugby to engineer their victories.

If you just do what is conventionally accepted, then you end up with conventional results from your S&C and consequently victories are created out of acts of individual brilliance rather than being engineered.

On the evidence of the 2014 Uni games, it would appear that they may have reverted to the more conventional way of thinking regarding heavy strength work. Either that, or the other clubs have adopted similar practices which now nullify Unis previous advantage.

Not having access to all their professional players due to the shortened SS season has also made it a little more difficult for the Corporation to perform to expectations at the pointy end of 2014.
 
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Train Without a Station

Guest
HJ you have to consider the player have previously had at their disposal and their athletic potential as well.

Players like Waugh, Inman, Carter, etc. will never go down in history as the greatest natural footballers. But they had the athletic potential to harness the strength training and prosper.

The fact that they haven't had these athletes, that suit this style of training and play and play their best under it is surely a factor in moving away from it.
 

Hugh Jarse

Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
@TWAS, I guess I am after an opinion from @Bruce Ross whether the Physical Imposition Rugby worked due to the Cattle they had as well as the "unique" S&C programme. If it is dependent on having certain types of cattle, Physical Imposition Rugby is not readily transferrable to other clubs, provinces and franchises.
 
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Train Without a Station

Guest
No style is readily transferable though is it?

Any can be emulated, but unless you are using a style which best harnesses the potential of your playing group it won't be as effective as it can be.
 

Bruce Ross

Ken Catchpole (46)
Interested to note that Bruce did not answer this point.

Conventional wisdom used to be that heavy resistance work should be done before the season, not during it,
I thought I did briefly answer it, wamberal, when I said:

"I would agree that there appears to have been 'a change in training and S&C philosophy at Uni'."

I chose not to elaborate further.

One thing that emerged from Uni's concentration on heavy strength training was to demonstrate that it could be effectively employed year round. For instance Daniel Halangahu did a BP squat one year in the week before a Grand Final. And Jerry Yanuyanutawa box-squatted 300kg 10 days after a Grand Final.
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Bruce Ross

Ken Catchpole (46)
@TWAS, I guess I am after an opinion from @Bruce Ross whether the Physical Imposition Rugby worked due to the Cattle they had as well as the "unique" S&C programme. If it is dependent on having certain types of cattle, Physical Imposition Rugby is not readily transferrable to other clubs, provinces and franchises.
My view, Huge, is that the Physical Imposition system worked because of the cattle they developed rather than "the Cattle they had". In my opinion it has general applicability so long as players are prepared to train hard and heavy for an extended period, literally years.

For all its faults for the past decade Sydney Uni has produced more professional rugby players than any other club in the world. These players were products of a very strong and well-resourced Colts program.

I'm an unabashed fan of the Physical Imposition style but it is virtually by definition very structured. Not all coaches have that philosophy.
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T

Train Without a Station

Guest
But Bruce my point is surely this style is much more suited to a group of players including Tom Carter, Mitch Inman, Phil Waugh, etc. than some of the current/recent Uni players such as Pat McCutcheon, Angus Roberts and James Stewart.

Some people are born to be strength athletes, some more fluid runners. I think the first 3 fall into the former and the second 3 fall more so into the latter from what I have seen of them.

Not to say either couldn't train and become better at the other, but just they will likely achieve better in the method that suits them.
 

Hugh Jarse

Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
I'd also add that not many clubs have the patience to stick with a Coach, or training philosophy for the development period you speak of, and if they do, they struggle to maintain the players on the training roster for long enough to reap the rewards of the programme.
 

Bruce Ross

Ken Catchpole (46)
But Bruce my point is surely this style is much more suited to a group of players including Tom Carter, Mitch Inman, Phil Waugh, etc. than some of the current/recent Uni players such as Pat McCutcheon, Angus Roberts and James Stewart.

Some people are born to be strength athletes, some more fluid runners. I think the first 3 fall into the former and the second 3 fall more so into the latter from what I have seen of them.

Not to say either couldn't train and become better at the other, but just they will likely achieve better in the method that suits them.
Just a quick comment on Jim Stewart. I see him as a player marvellously suited to the Physical Imposition style.

And if we look at the 2010 Uni side, Burgess, Barnes and Huxley for example were not necessarily strength athletes but fitted in well with the style. Similarly Phipps and Foley are players who can make good use of such a platform.
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Quick Hands

David Wilson (68)
Not having access to all their professional players due to the shortened SS season has also made it a little more difficult

Regardless of playing style, not having access to significantly more full-time professional players, who have spent the previous 6 months training and playing at a higher level is an important difference in 2014.

Uni certainly didn't play the same highly structured game in 2014 as they did in the past. This could be because of a change in training methodology, coaching philosophy or just not having the same calibre of players to carry out the structure - or a combination of all 3.
 
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