TOMORROW sees London Scottish take on last season’s relegated Premiership side Leeds Carnegie at the Athletic Ground. It’ll be interesting to pit ourselves against a team that was playing top level rugby last season.
This will be our fifth game of the Championship season, which, when you include pre-season and cup matches, means that we have played 10 first XV games so far. It’s only natural, then, that teams are starting to pick up injuries by this time of year.
A general rule of thumb is that, at most stages of a season, you’ll have roughly 20 per cent of your squad out injured. That tallies with our situation at present.
You need luck to ensure your team is at its peak for big games – but there are ways of being luckier. Although it’s impossible to legislate for contact injuries, the club’s medical team try to manage the workload to ensure non-contact injuries such as strains and muscle pulls are kept to a minimum.
The other method is to plan effectively. It is important there is enough depth in your squad. If you are reliant on one or two superstars it’s vital to manage them so they are fit at the critical parts of the season, but also have enough game time so they are in form.
A great example of this is how New Zealand respond to Dan Carter’s injury at the World Cup. He’s absolutely critical to them – because he is such a great player but also as the All Blacks haven’t found an effective replacement for him yet.
In a country as rugby obsessed as New Zealand there will probably be a public inquest into the nature of Dan’s injury, especially considering it occurred during training. He tore the left adductor muscle while practising place-kicking, which will be frustrating for the coaching staff who will undoubtedly be asking: could we have done anything to prevent it?
His loss to New Zealand and the tournament cannot be overestimated and the other seven nations in the quarter-finals will all feel they have got a better chance of lifting the cup now that he is out.
The England-France game will be especially interesting this weekend. Although much has been made of how poor the French have been, they are a team that, if everything clicks, can beat anybody on their day. Much will depend on how eccentric their team selection is but I think England are slight favourites. It is definitely game on!
Simon Amor is Head Coach at London Scottish. Their next game is against Leeds Carnegie tomorrow at 3pm, Richmond Athletic Ground.
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