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Steinberg Highlights Skills, Position Deficiencies

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Steinberg Highlights Skills, Position Deficiencies

Women’s elite-level rugby is getting better, says Eagle Women 15s Head Coach Pete Steinberg, but there are some thin areas.

We asked Steinberg to spell out some skill deficiencies among the 200 players that recently wrapped up their all-star week at Tiger Town in Florida. Steinberg instead opted to discuss positions, and then extrapolated those issues to relate to skills.

“We have position weaknesses,” said Steinberg. “We have lots of great rugby players, but we need more players who can play openside flanker, hooker, flyhalf, and scrumhalf at an elite level. What we’re seeing is players who play flyhalf because she is the most dangerous runner on her team, but she can’t pass under pressure because she has never had to. All the skills that relate to those positions - being good over the ball in the breakdown for flankers, being able to throw in at the lineout accurately for hookers, kicking skills, or the scrumhalf or flyhalf pass - we need players to be better at.”

In addition, Steinberg noted that players who are good on their high school, college, or club team might be good at two or three things, but aren’t asked to do more. So a player who succeeds in running through tacklers found last week that she is now being tackled, and isn’t sure how to use her support to keep the movement going. 

Players, event experienced players, are sometimes unclear on the laws of the game, added Steinberg, and that can make for some unfortunate errors in tough games.

So the plan is, said the coach, to help track players into their appropriate positions by the time they turn 20, if possible. And he wants to see those players working on the skills for those positions - kicking from hand remains a skill that is inconsistent at best in the high school and college ranks, and club players could stand to be better at it, too.

Tactical understanding also comes with experience, said Steinberg, which comes from asking players to do more and challenge themselves more. 

The plan also in future elite-level assemblies is to have players go through referee training in order to understand the game and the laws better.