Call for players to boost skill sets
Rugby union players need to polish their skills because poor technique at the highest levels has resulted in the sport being dominated by size and strength, former Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan has said.
In terms of the skills on display, rugby union is "miles behind" other professional sports, especially those in the United States, added Ryan, who led Fiji to their first Olympic gold medal in rugby sevens at the Rio Games last year.
"It's been bugging me for quite a while," the former England sevens player wrote on his website. (www.benryan.co.uk)
"When you compare rugby XV's skills at the highest levels to other professional sports – particularly in the USA, then we are miles behind."
Ryan used National Basketball Association (NBA) games to explain the difference in attitudes between rugby union and other sports.
"Take the NBA," he added. "Every attempted shot is technically on the money. Every single one. Watch them play or train and you will see the same exacting technique that has been practiced ad nauseam.
"You need to be technically brilliant in attack and defence or you get found out quickly. Skill reproduction is seen as a huge priority. Why? Because the teams at the highest level win the most. Skill equals success," he said.
"You might think I'm being overly critical but if the skill sets aren't encouraged to improve across the board then the game will become less accurate and based more on size and strength... That would only lead to a dilution of the sport."
Ryan also criticised players' passing techniques in the English Premiership and at the test level.
"Pass technique varies with every pass and rarely do their hands end up pointing towards their intended target," he wrote.
"Hands are rarely up ready to receive a pass unless they are actually acting as a decoy player. A movement sideways rather than forward is often the case."