Cross training players – problems, responsibilities & challenges they bring

Hey guys!

So its been a LONG year. Though we’re right in the middle of December it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

What a year it has been in the rugby world though! The All Blacks go undefeated. The British & Irish Lions go rampaging across Australia and Leicester destroy the Aviva Premiership once again.

Add to the fact that thanks to a lot of wonderful people at #RugbyUnited I got sponsored to play in a double World Record match and break the Longest Game of Rugby Union & Most Points Scored in a game records – 24 hours & 50 mins + 2570 points respectively.

The other day I came across a debate about playing professional players in completely different positions. The conversation of this topic was about Richie Veron of Glasgow Warriors, a great back rower in my opinion, playing at outside centre.

Having played both positions for a period of time in the last 3/4 years I know the differences and similarities between flanking and being a tank in midfield, both needing to be running 95% of the game and both impact the team, both attacking and defending. If you were managing a team such as Glasgow, and had injury problems or just problems at a certain position such as 13. Would you move a back rower, such as Veron, to 13 or would you allow a young talent, who had been in the shadows, play there until the injured player returns/ a better quality replacement is brought into the club.

Now in rugby league a back row or loose forward (11,12,13) can play in the centres (3&4) I have seen players that play loose forward also play in the half backs positions (6&7). You do also have the Hooker, which is like a scrum-half in attack, but defensively like any other forward, who can switch into the half back roles also. In a lot of other team sports players including football, basketball and Hockey occasionally have to switch positions due to what the coach/manager has asked whether it be due to injury or a tactful play. So can rugby union players make the switch to a different position without to much hassle?

Would there be any other positions that you could see as interchange able? Such as a back rower to Centre and visa versa.  

Would it help a club to cross-train a player across a couple of positions in case injury doubts do arise? Could it help to build a player’s skill set and talents?

People may argue that playing as a 6/7/8 and then switching to 12/13 for example, can leave you to defensive minded and your weak then running offensive moves.

Can a change like this cause problems to players or do you think they should bode well to change and learn the position properly even though it may be for a game, two or for a period of time?

Although it ain’t as big a switch as the Veron case, over at the Blues in the Super 15 you’ve got Benji Marshall, a great runner with the ball on the wing normally, having had to play at fly-half occasionally, when an injury crisis crops up.

Personally I think it works we’ll for both club and player if they’re willing to learn a new position, though it helps if the position was near the mould that they currently play in.

If you were an international manager and had a cross-trained player, like Veron or Marshall or even Sonny-Bill Williams (when he’s playing union in the back row) would you pick an extra forward (in Veron/SBW case) or back in Marshall or SBW’s case (SBW tends to play at 12/13 but has played back row previously) if you know that you can switch one of the fore mentioned or the player in your squad that can switch into a different position?

What are your thoughts on this?
If you could pick players from across the globe to play in different positions, who would they be and why?

Enjoy

Daniel O’Rourke

@danorourke1995

 

 

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