Had or having a tough season...!? And now the Covid19 virus has shocked the entire rugby industry to a stand still, and, for all intentional purposes, all your hard work you have done for the 2020 season has slipped out the window! In the bigger picture, it seems like the 2020 season is a loss, one that will be scrapped from the roll. With the uncertainty of when countries will come out of lock down, and when rugby will get going again, this is a challenging time for all coaches. Do you keep your players conditioned and on the top of their game, for when we kick off again - will that happen anytime soon? You might be doing that for 1,2 or 3 months, (or even more) without having any playing time. As a coach you know how tough it is for players to mentally keep putting in good quality training sessions without getting game time. Then there is also the self discipline factor - not every one is good at training by themselves. How effective can players really train during lock down? Strength and conditioning at most, if they have the necessary resources, and maybe a couple of individual skills? Or, do you cut your losses, wait to see what happens and then start from scratch? What if it happens sooner than you expect? If your opponents are keeping busy, your team might be far behind when rugby kicks off again.
Where will senior rugby programs, Varsities and Unions recruit? With school rugby and all the youth tournaments called off, where will the talent be on showcase? Where will the intake for 2021 come from ? Not to even mention sponsors...
I got a phone call from a young center, whom I have worked with at provincial level. He is finishing school this year and hoping to head into a rugby career. He was gr 11 last year, and one of the best in his age group in the midfield. 2020 was meant to be his big year, one that would propel his career. His phone call was a nervous one - " Coach, where will the recruiters see me play, how am I going to get a bursary for varsity?"
I had consultation coaching bookings in Spain, Australia and Dubai, which for now, seems to be cancelled. I had to cancel all my coaching workshops for coaches, I had to cancel all player clinics, I have managed to transfer most of my individual coaching sessions to online video coaching, which I now have to do from my garden! But unfortunately not all players have access to that. The varsity team I am with is past halfway in the competition. The provincial team I am with have not started the season yet. I am keeping my teams busy but not on a periodic approach, cause we do not have a start date. At this stage it is a weekly approach.
Challenging times indeed...
This is just a handful of the many frustrating and challenging scenarios coaches and directors face in these uncertain times. Although there is common ground, each level, from the little ones, straight through to the pro's, face their own unique challenges as well.
Although a tough season is usually defined by losses, injuries etc, the 2020 season brings a whole new meaning to the word tough, in terms of piecing it together.
BUT in these very challenging and uncertain times we still have a choice. Remember, circumstances don't define you, the choices you make defines you. So wrap your head around this... Its often in the toughest seasons that you grow the most as a coach. This might be one heck of a tough one, but, it just might be the one that brings out the best in you! Your dream does not have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and keep going.