The World Rugby directive that was ignored in the Wallabies’ quest for the ‘best maul in the world’

Dan McKellar’s priorities at the Wallabies are absolutely clear: to produce the best maul in the world and “genuine physicality and brutality” in everything they do.

In the physical arms race of rugby test forward fights, there is no room for hesitation. World Rugby is trying to temper the sport’s growing physique, with varying degrees of success, but men like McKellar can’t afford a step back.

McKellar and his boss Dave Rennie know what is coming when the Test series against England begins on Saturday – a bloody fight for forward supremacy.

“It’s a big part of their DNA, isn’t it, the set piece and that physicality and that brutality and that’s something we’re trying to bring to this attacking group here,” McKellar said Wednesday.

“They will be strong from set pieces; Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Jamie George, they are world class. It’s a huge challenge for us.

The free kick is the obvious battleground on Saturday, and the Australian scrum, not exactly highly rated in England, is already cracking days away from the match with key injury issues.

McKellar can’t afford to let that influence his focus.

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

“We’re trying to develop a mindset here of having the best maul in the world,” he said.

“It takes time, there are five groups of players who come from different franchises and they all do it differently, so the buy-in and the thirst was evident from me.”

Another key area is “authentic physics and brutality in what we do. Playing with a real hard edge. You won’t win any matches without it, and you certainly won’t win a test match.

McKellar’s maul work was the best in the business at Super Rugby level, and he was asked if he watched the Wallabies maim more often or just did a better job.

“It’s just about mutilating better, isn’t it?” he replied. “The reality is that in Test match rugby the games are often close so when the opportunity arises to take points you usually take the points whereas in Super Rugby the bonus points during the season, if you score tries, are certainly important.

“The opportunities in Test rugby are less but when we take them we have to be better. Mauling is one of them, there’s a lot to being a good group of forwards but it’s one area we’ve identified that can definitely make some changes.

The Wallabies will name their squad on Thursday and the line-up should give some insight into Rennie’s forward style of play. But there are things that are non-negotiable to whoever puts on the golden jersey.

“You have to face them, don’t you?” McKellar said. “You have to understand that you can’t be shy about knowing where the challenge is coming from.

“It’s been part of the DNA of English rugby forever and on a day when set pieces, physicality and brutality matter and that’s certainly going to be important for our pack.

“We know that to win this game we have to win the collisions and we have to look to dominate from the set pieces. It’s that simple. They are world class and it is a real challenge for us. If we do that, you give the likes of the players we have in the backline to really shine and dominate.

The task facing McKellar and other coaches seeking to prepare and prepare players for these big physical battles has been complicated over the past year as World Rugby reacts to growing concern over brain injuries. .

Their high repression of contact is having a significant impact with an increase in red and yellow cards throughout Super Rugby. In this competition, 20-minute red cards have kept matches competitive, but World Rugby has ruled out this change and a red in this Test series will mean a team is down to 14 players for the rest of the match, and McKellar will not don’t understand why.

Angus Bell of Australia reacts as he receives a yellow card from referee Jaco Peyper during the Autumn Nations Series match between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on November 13, 2021 in London, in England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“I was in favor of the 20 minute red card because accidents in this match will happen and you get penalized and there is a consequence for an accident but that doesn’t necessarily have a real impact on the outcome of the match,” McKellar said.

“Unfortunately this has not been taken into account and the law is the law and we have to understand that if we break the rules or are shown a red card, the impact will be significant.

“I have always been in favor of an orange card. Deliberate foul play, and we all know what deliberate foul play and dirty play is, red card, and make sure they stay on the sidelines for a long time, but there have been many accidents over the of Super Rugby this year. ”

He said crackdwon had an impact on the way teams were trained.

“All the coaches have had to adapt. Nobody wants head shots, nobody wants players getting multiple concussions,” McKellar said.

“Defensive coaches have had to adjust your target area from where you hit the tackle. You have to be very careful when clearing, especially when there is a jackler or poacher on the ball around where you are aiming.

“At the same time, we have to understand that there has to be an element of common sense and that we are in a collision sport and there will be a collision go wrong every now and then and unfortunately accidents will happen.

“Deliberate foul play, you have to rule it out immediately. But I think coaches around the world now understand that you can’t be reckless when you get close to a collision, whether it’s the tackler, the cleanup or the carrying the ball.

He is convinced that the players have understood the message.

“They’re pretty clear on that, knowing that if there’s any contact with the opposition’s head, you’re going to get the TMO and the officials involved and you have a chance to stay out for a few weeks.

“I think that has been crystal clear not just in the last Super Rugby season, but since the last World Cup.”

While the red card scenario is on the minds of the coaching staff, another World Rugby recommendation from last year was quickly forgotten.

In September, World Rugby set player health guidelines which included a full-contact training cap of 15 minutes per week, with no more than 40 minutes of controlled contract training and 30 minutes of on-the-job training. stopped foot every week.

“Our immediate priority is to get teams to adopt the guidelines, and the positive feedback we’ve received indicates they will,” World Rugby chief medical officer Dr Eanna Falvey said at the time. .

The missing keyword was “required”.

I asked McKellar if the Wallabies have ever considered closing in on target times as they prepare to face the full force of England.

“To be honest, I saw this for about five minutes. It was a headline in an article and after those five minutes I didn’t think about it again,” McKellar said.

“It was never discussed within our group of coaches. That’s interesting, I’d love to see how they would measure that 15 minutes week to week.

“It’s definitely not in the forefront of my mind. I think the best way to avoid contact injuries is to practice the technique required in a contact situation. Limiting it to 15 minutes is that I don’t see how it works at all.

The reality is that no professional team in this sport, or any other, will act on a recommendation rather than a law.

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