Saturday, December 27, 2008

Women's Rugby Footage?! On the web!? No Way!

Thank you Agent of Change for Good! Whoever you are you're a frickin angel! Anyone who is a fan (or coach, admin, ref, or involved player) of the women's game knows it's nigh impossible to watch women's matches online. Often we have to sustain ourselves on poorly shot clips and snips on youtube...which is nice for recruitment but not as effective as a teaching tool. With how few Eagle matches there are you'd think interested women's clubs could request DVDs of the match. Utilize bitorrent to quickly share matches and make the material available because frankly streaming is not the most sustainable option. I know I'm just griping...*sigh* especially since all I can do is sit on my ass. Ugh. Well here's some videos of the Women's Eagle 7s squad in Dubai

there are more on the AgentofChangeforGood's channel

What else...I only got to go to one practice and it was more of a conditioning practice for Belmont Shore's men's team. Only two of our girls went but luckily (and unfortunately) it was two of the fittest girls on our team, and while I'm getting pretty antsy being on my ass all the time I'm pretty glad I didn't have to get through this practice. To start out with there were about 35-40 guys who showed up (I guess all their eagles were at a camp somewhere) and it was an amalgam of Belmon Shore, CSULB, and Belmont's youth program. So they started out running on this long thin strip of grass (about 100m in length) with numerous palm trees every couple of meters. The drill started with a group of about 3-4 running through the course with a ball popping the ball to each other. The ballcarrier would run up to a palm tree, transition the ball to the proper arm to create separation, turn, step out of the line to create space and pop it to a person communicating and coming with speed from depth. Pretty simple drill right? But I really liked how they used an organic drill (the ballcarrier would just choose a route to a palm tree and the support had to react and reposition themselves to keep the ball flowing in bounds. It was also nifty that the opponent was something physically there and easily visible from ones peripheral vision and not just a cone or something. The players were instructed to really burst through the drill and then jog it back and the coach broke up the drill once or twice to emphasize communication, timing in respect to both the ballcarrier choosing to turn and the support, as well as doing the whole thing at pace. All in all they probably ran the drill about 15-20 times through. One of the important points that their coach finished on was emphasizing the importance of turning on the heat at the end of the drill. Players were apparently slowing down near the end of it and he reminded them that working your way down to the 22m it's the last bit where you have to really turn it on and be more precise! It's the whole red zone bit but I thought it was neat that he was reminding them of a meta-purpose within the drill. After this the guys were nice and sweating (they had done some sort of four corners but we had gotten lost on the way there and had missed it) and he split them up into forwards and backs mostly in order to group them by approximate fitness levels. The forwards ran 8 sets of steep beach stairs two at a time and then switched to what the backs were doing which was 25 or so sand sprints from the water up to the sidewalk. After this the two groups got back together, got a quick pep talk and then did a grueling 16 hill runs. Now I know you're thinking I mean hill sprints or mean hill runs of about a half a mile or so took the fastest super league (non-eagle) players about 45+ minutes to finish, the rest of the pack finished in about 60. Yeesh! Mo finished about 8th but I know she was killing her knee and the other girl we brought (a rookie) managed to finish about 4th from last (and only because she skipped the beach sprints and ran cross-country in high school). Long story short I'm glad I missed that one, at least in my current couch potato state (thanks doc!).

From a coaching perspective it was pretty neat some of things men's coaches can do. If the coach was talking, everyone shut the fuck up and listened. If the coach called on you, you answered. He was allowed to crack a joke, you were not. Some guy was late and he reamed them in front of people, he made sure they knew that he noticed. After the run he gave 'em a pep talk (they have their first league game right after the holidays) and basically told them they needed to work harder but fuck their teammates who didn't show up for holiday practice. It was neat that he just said it outright that he'd bench those that didn't come, no excuses no bullshit. He called out player's names who he noticed were pushing it in the run (and not just the people who finished first), it was cool seeing them perk up after being mentioned. Overall the coaches were extremely supportive and positive during the drills and especially through the run. Telling them to push it, but lots of positive feedback as well. I dunno it was a neat, efficient practice. There was the head coach, an assistant coach, two managers and a trainer as well as parents of the two youth players on hand. Talk about nifty!

Oh and I also got to talk to the assistant coach about defensive organization drills. They teach a three position defense as well but they emphasize pushing out rather then in. His point was that fitter teams benefit from an outward pushing defense and that was their reason for doing so. Their positions were post, nine, and 1st receiver. Post pushed up and took the inside channel or anyone running back inside, nine protected from a nine drift and pushed up and out, and 1st receiver took the same sort of line and took the (duh) first receiver. His basic drill for teaching this was having a set of halfbacks and some forwards on offense and then have the defense in groups away from the drill, do some fitness like a couple of push-ups and then run into the drill and set up a defense. As players get more comfortable with the drill he sets up a couple stations spread out on the field so they have to run in and set up a defensive line, come up, then retreat backwards, reset, come up, then run to yet another station and repeat. Like the All Blues defense he stressed filling in on the weak side first, going post weak then post strong then 9 weak 9 strong then 1st w and 1st s. Oh and I got clarification that when the defense needs to put more people weakside posts don't really move, people on the strong side (not p,9,1) run behind the line and reinsert themselves on weak side when necessary. I know this is a confusing way to put things but we really really really need some defensive organization so I'm just writing down my notes and kind of comparing and contrasting. He was a bit harder to understand then the main coach and he was probably unsure about how much I understood about rugby. He also mentioned that grubber kicks are really effective against centers who run up aggressively in defense. Which I thought was odd because it would seem like fullback position would also be a factor in that sort of calculation. The gist of it was Belmont Shore a top super league men's team uses the same three position defensive organization off of the breakdown as the All Blues except they push outwards where the ABs push in. So it'll be interesting to see what UC Berkeley does (UC Santa Cruz's season).

Oh well. This has been a long winded post. It's always fascinating seeing how different coaches coach. Well I'll be moving to the bay and there are a number of phenomenal coaches in the area, hopefully I'll be able to catch practices with Kathy Flores, Alex Williams, Ellen Owens, Griff, Mary T, and others. This should be an interesting year =] Now lets just heal up this hip! Two more weeks and we'll see!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rugby Short Films

Seem to be popping up everywhere with the end of the quarter.

Like this vid from UVA

Right, so I'm waiting on Wednesday to see the specialist and if need be get surgery in the two week window where I still have health insurance. Alright. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Actually, I broke my hip

Yeah. Got the X-rays and I have a fracture on my hip (socket). Yup. (@#(&#*@()* I'll find out more on Wednesday and I'm praying to @(*#&@#(*& that I just have to rest it. I can't afford surgery and my student insurance drops me at the start of January. Obviously no insurance packet will pick up the tab for an existing injury (or not for 6 months) so if I need pins and crap I'm fucked. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Well at least my parents know (and my mother is freaking out about the money (and not me) sooo I'm going to have a pleasant break...I get to work on my resume and try and get a job...with a BROKEN HIP. Awesome! Like I'm not already the worst candidate ever. *sigh* expect more depressing crap as my life spirals down the drain. Please note that I'm not actually this emo but putting up with all the people in my life who are is forcing me to be emo here. Ugh. PS it's weird when your LAU representative friends you on facebook. is. Wish me luck anyhoo.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Probably not a fracture

and most likely I just did some major soft tissue/muscle damage to the area that stabilizes my hip. So it's just a waiting game between rest (which I suck at doing...all I do is sit on my ass UNTIL I get hurt and then I'm crutching around like a spastic 11 year old), ice, and arnica until my check up on Thursday. Joy. On the plus side I've written the last essay of my undergraduate career (and am only one bullshit horror film final away from being done with this shit!) Yea I just need some rest, I pulled an all nighter last night killing two essays with one jittery 4am session. Now I just got to remember to stop leaving my (@*&# cell phone in places I can't easily reach it (and the crutches).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sweet! I might have dislocated my hip. Yes. My hip.

Isn't that cool?? It's only finals week, right before I move out of my house, have to visit the fam....alright alright I know I've already given the long list before but j@#@# c@#@Qt of all the luck! Hopefully it's nothing major but I'll find out on Tuesday. Until then I don't know what to do. Ice, rest, Ice, rest, arnica, Ice, rest. Ugh. I wish I knew what it was just a bunch of snaps in my hip region/side of my leg when I went down in a tackle (my stupid fault looking for the offload in a scrappy scrimmage). I knew something wasn't right but it didn't hurt that bad and I tried to walk it off but my legs were super shaky from the adrenaline. After taking a walk I started to feel it more and my leg just felt like dead weight that was pulling my leg out of it's hip socket. Basically my leg just feels like it's falling off so um I'm just figuring dislocation. I can walk if I severely limit my range of motion but I can't take stairs or lift my leg vertically without the "falling out of its socket uncomfortable gross and ghostly sensation". Erm. So. I hope it's alright. If anyone has any ideas I'd love for you to comment. This sucks but such is life. Maybe I'll actually write my last two essays...heh...

Wrapping it all up.

My senior seminar final is over. One class down, two to go. It's really just small things now...8 page paper aside (it wouldn't be bad but I've run out of things to discuss in the class). I have about a week after Wednesday to get my shit clean and packed, fix the car, say goodbye to my cat, and move. Bleh. The list gets shorter and I wish it wouldn't. It's weird leaving my family here at UCSC, the team and others. We had an Olympic lifting clinic instead of our normal practice which was fun 'cause I got to hang out with all the kids and learn something new. I did olympic lifting through high school and I never really got it until now. A big thanks to our volleyball coach and OPERS staff for taking there time to help us out on this. I got a nice farewell after practice, heh a 35 odd person group hug...the club has grown so frickin much. Now we just need the infrastructure to adjust to the numbers. It's weird thinking that in a week I'm not going to see these women three times a week...I mean 4 years of habit is gonna be hard to change.

Lots of exciting things are happening locally in rugby land. Our alumni Vanessa Wilson is trying to start a HS team at Santa Cruz High School, the students she works with in Watsonville HS are also interested in starting a rugby team. She's looking for help in that regard so if anyone lives in the south bay area and wants to help out just leave a comment and I can hook you up there. There's so much rugby developing in the South Bay just as I'm leaving it =p ehehe oh well it's all good. The more rugby the better, right? I wish I could help more then I am, I'm just loaning her a few rugby games on dvd.

Berkeley apparently doesn't start up again until February =p at which point I'll for sure have a job and then I get to worry about scheduling conflicts. On the plus side UC Berkeley appears to have a packed calendar so I ought to be able to watch and or participate with somebody. Maybe I can get a UCB gym pass for Christmas...

What else, speaking of fitness it's pretty nifty, we've got a number of girls in the south bay (LA) and I think I can convince them to go train with Belmont over break. The landsharks are doing fitness/light drills with their mens team on Tues-Thurs and hopefully I can convince our kids to go out and train with them. So hopefully a few of them can play 7s with them over summer or something. (I'll be down for two of these practices and I'm looking forward to getting my ass kicked!)

Right, and here's a lovely short film by Jessica Vazquez from Sac State (damnit and I could've been in it too if my car had been working...and yknow...I wasn't terrified of driving). It's an awesome film so check it out.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Losing Home Again...

On a positive note I'm going to be living with my teammates family in Oakland for a very cheap rate. Which fixes a couple of my problems with one stone...but I've still got a crap load to do. I spent four days down south with the fam which was fairly relaxing despite all the work on my plate but my ride up left at 4:40am this morning...and I went to bed around 12-1am (getting my best friend nice and sauced to make up for missing his wedding). Ugh..I can't believe finals are next week, I'm completely unprepared for my seminar final (plus two papers...which wouldn't be a big deal but....) I still have to fix my car, pack, organize moving, move, write a resume, completely replace my wardrobe, learn how to act like an adult and present myself well, get a job, figure out how I want to improve my education, insurance, taxes, cell phone bills, become an adult. Shit.

Short choppy steps! Also on a nice note I've managed to drop around twenty lbs this quarter (woot I'm now 202...and 5'2")...which is pretty damn good considering it's mostly from improving what I eat (fiber + anti-oxidants + carbs + veggies - bacon - sausage - mayo - sugar). I mean I'm sure I've lost a fair amount of muscle because I've been more of a coach then a player this quarter but my next goal to get firmly under the 200 mark because I'm definitely going to have to lean up and get fit to play for/learn from ze blues.

Other rugby notes...because y'kno this is a rugby blog:
STANFORD women 50 – UC Santa Cruz 17 Referee: Tony Redmond
Stanford 50 (5G, 3T), Santa Cruz 17 (1G, 2T)
A pretty open game played in good spirit. First penalty after 22 minutes and no more than 8 in the entire game, the majority in the last 20 minutes after players lost their shape through tiredness, which is to be expected at this stage of the season. Stanford scored 34 unanswered points in the first half as they were faster and more controlled at the breakdown, which led to a nice supply of quick ball that their backs made full use of. Stanford scored first in the second half and then went to sleep to allow Santa Cruz to score three times (starting with an intercept try) before they finished off with a last minute score to reach the half century.

Speaking of the Stanford match...I did my usual snooping about and found the professional pictures of the match and gee whiz...biased or not (they were taken by a Stanford Faculty) they were pretty humiliating to go through. Out of curiosity I pulled out all the pictures where our players were attempting to tackle their ball carriers and there were about 71 pictures of missed tackles. Yeeeesh...I know what we're doing on Tuesday...

Also from the week before Kathy Flores seems to be making her presence felt in the collegiate league with her new team getting some pretty high complements from the refs (despite and in light of some favorable but low-scoring matches against established semi-final D1 finishers UC Davis)

Arriving at Davis' Pioneer Park expecting a match between UC Davis Women and St. Mary's, I was pleasantly surprised that what was on tap instead was a mini tournament between Davis' A & B sides, St. Mary's, and USF.

On tap, four 30-minutes mini-match, and a 20-minute one to close the proceedings.

UC Davis A-Side vs. St. Mary's 15-0. The Davis ladies just too strong for a St. Mary's team which, though well drilled and committed, is obviously rebuilding. Three unconverted tries by Davis and no score for St. Mary's.

UC Davis A&B Sides combined vs. USF 0-0. If you lamented the fact that the USF ladies have long advertised for a coach, fret no more. One Kathy Flores (of World Cup & Eagles fame) came to their rescue, and the results were immediately apparent. Although the USF ladies are a new and inexperienced side, they are the ones to watch in the near future. A sturdy pack, and a great back line helped them keep Davis at bay. Much back & forth, but no score.

Another UC Davis amalgam & USF. USF seemed to improve as the day went by. Their pack grew in effectiveness, and their backs dazzled with their runs and their tackling. USF 5 - Davis 0. The score could have been higher if the USF ladies had passed a bit more.

St. Mary's vs. UC Davis B Side. St. Mary got the best of Davis on this one. Plenty runs, and much tackling. The close score reflects the closely matched skills of the two teams. Final Score: St. Mary 5 - Davis 0

St. Mary's - USF 5-5. USF continued to surprise as, for a new side, they play with skill and panache. This last match was an abbreviated one, with two 10 minutes halves. The first half saw a try scored by each side with no conversions. With a couple of minutes from to go in the second half, with the agreement of both coaches, I ended the match. This due to a collision between two of the St. Mary's ladies. In 35 years of Rugby I have never heard the sound of two heads hitting as hard as on this occasion - a sound like the throwing of a coconut against the wall. Both ladies went down and were assessed by a doctor on the sidelines. A visit to the emergency room was recommended for both, even though they were on their feet, albeit groggily. Spectators reported to have heard the sound of the collision clear across the whole length of the pitch. My best wishes to both players!

In spite of this frightening episode, this was a glorious day. Beautiful weather, committed sportswomen playing hard, and with their customary good behavior. A goodish crowd on tap, and fun for all."

Alright so hopefully I'll be able to get in contact with some Davis players and get the lowdown on this suddenly competitive hoedown (yea that was cheesy) here.

Oh and the Davis Double Deckers did it again and won the Chico Holiday Classic, beating out UC Davis 44-0(who must be tired of playing them by now) and SLO 34-0 for the win. You can tell that the DDDs are itching at the trigger to take on the Pac Coast league coming this fall (or spring...I really ought to have someone explain the women's senior schedule cause it sounds confusing as hell). While I'm on that note I really should get on finding out when the All Blue practice is in January...

Hmm speaking of joining up and's kind of mondo frustrating that Berkeley hasn't updated their website in ages...I'd think that winning the National Championship would be a cause for updating your site right? I mean even just the heading...2007 nat's one digit change and it's 2008 champs..*sigh* oh well. Seemingly in direct contrast you have NY, which (I don't check up often, but) always seems to keep their stuff up to steam publicity wise...and here's nifty new recruiting video they put out (ok I think it's a little hokey...I mean they throw every buzzword and the kitchen sink out there but there's some gloss to it) but NY always seems to win the team unity contest (but maybe that's just the view from across the nation)

One final note...did you know that using your knee or heel to quick tap the ball is illegal? Doing so results in a scrum on the mark with the put-in (duh) to the other team. Yup. Now you know.