Photo courtesy of Craig Watson Photography
Room for Improvement
“We’re always going to strive to be better…”
“We can be a hell of a lot better…”
“From a coaching point of view I know we can do a lot better…”
Three different quotes after the three matches in the Guinness Pro14 from Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie. Glasgow have won all three games without hitting top gear. Perhaps this is not surprising when their Head Coach arrived a couple of weeks before the season started. However, I think if they had scored 50 points in all three games Rennie would be saying the same. Because I think his standards and expectations are higher than even Gregor Townsend’s when he was Head Coach at the Warriors. You can’t fault him for this. As soon as a team starts showing complacency they are on the decline. He must be frustrated too because Glasgow have shown glimpses of what they can do without maintaining a consistent level. Granted conditions in Connacht were brutal, and they weren’t much better down in Cardiff. But Rennie, it appears, is not a man to hide behind excuses.
Credit where Credit is Due
Rennie has made sure to praise his team for winning the games, (“I’m happy with the end result”; “it’s important to win those games”; “we ended up winning well”). He is willing to give credit when it is earned, identifying one or two areas from each game:
Connacht: “We put a lot of pressure on them, turned the ball over well and I thought our line out defence was excellent, we made it really difficult for them at set piece. Character wise and attitude wise they were great.”
Ospreys: “We raised the tempo and built some pressure in the second half, “
Blues: “One try was from a counter attack, we spend a lot of time on that part of our game and the guys did well to reload on the short side and were pretty clinical then.”
As a player you appreciate when a coach recognises a hard fought win. Yet he is making it perfectly clear he expects more. This is also important for the players because he is keeping them motivated and hungry to improve. So far he has identified they didn’t kick enough against Connacht, but then put in “too many little kicks in behind that ended up giving away possession and relieving pressure” against Cardiff. He has also said they were too slow to the contact and individual defence wasn’t up to it against the Ospreys. And they made too many handling errors and didn’t convert linebreaks into tries against Cardiff. Decision-making; skill execution; mindset; forwards; backs. A range of “work-ons” involving everybody in the team.
Competition for Places
Rennie has previously said he believes rotating his squad helps keep players on their toes and drives up standards. He is rotating his squad at Glasgow and the important thing is player’s appreciate they have an opportunity to perform rather than thinking they have one game to prove how good they are. If you adopt the latter mindset you play for yourself, you try and force things and it tends not to work. Take the opportunity to perform and you will be more relaxed, in the correct mindset for the team and you will put team goals ahead of your individual desire to play the following week. Mindset was something we spoke a lot about with Scotland 7s. Make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The difference in mindset can have a huge impact on team performance rather than a group of individuals wearing the same kit.
Time for Payback
Munster come to Scotstoun this Friday and I believe this will be Glasgow’s first real test. Rassie Erasmus’ side beat the Ospreys in Wales last weekend. In fact they have only lost twice in
the league this year (both times to the Scarlets) and did the double double over Glasgow last season, beating them home and away in the Pro12 and Champions Cup. Munster have won their last eight away league matches. Glasgow need to be aware of this but they also appreciate they have a new coach and both have changed squads.
The Warriors will need to be better than they have been. Improve the areas Rennie has identified, and keep doing the other bits well and they should win. Simple really.
Quotes taken from http://www.glasgowwarriors.org
Colin is a rugby analyst for BBC Scotland. You can listen to Glasgow v Munster from 18:30 on BBC Radio Scotland, Friday 22nd September.
Feature Photo taken by Craig Watson. For more images check out: http://www.craigwatson.co.uk