He’s not even been in the country very long, but already new Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown is chiming in with his theory as to why there is such a disparity between the standards of the English and Australian national sides. Apparently, the English season is waaay too long, and it’s hindering Brown’s chances to get the Giants prepared:
“It’s a lot shorter preparation than I’m used to. Back home, we have six weeks before Christmas and six weeks after before we play our first game,” said the 35-year-old Giants boss.
“That’s why Australia are where they are. The guys who played [in the World Cup] will get six weeks of pre-season before they play, whereas the English guys go back after Christmas, train for a week or two and then start playing so they don’t get a good chance to prepare their bodies.
“If they want to challenge Australia and New Zealand, that’s what they’ve got to do. But at least everyone is on a level field over here so no one has an advantage.”
Although the idea that England would suddenly be the match of Australia if they cut down on the season length a bit might be over-simplifying matters somewhat, Brown does have a point. Super League has already cut down the fixture list by one game with the advent of the Magic Weekend, but for a while people have generally been moaning about the number of games that players have to go through, especially as it involves teams playing each other three (on occasions even four) times a season just to get up to the required number of games. The pounding that a player has to take week-on-week of course has to have a detrimental effect on the health of the players, not to mention whatever takes place in training. As much as sports science has advanced over the years, the demands put on the players still manages to outpace it.
Of course, there’s an obvious reason why we won’t get a reduction in the number of games any time soon: TEH MONEYZ! A reduction in games means a reduction in gate takings, in bar takings, in merchandise sales on gameday etc. and it’s pretty damn unlikely that the clubs would stand for that. It’s a shame, because healthier players = better product for two main reasons: a) as Brown points out, a reduction in the number of games frees up time for training, and coaching is very important for the maintainance of high levels of skill in any sport, and b) healthier players perform better [/obvious].
Of course, overly long / overcrowded seasons are not unique to Rugby League. Country cricket has far too much dross in its fixture list, and there have been moves by FIFA and UEFA have made it known they would like the Premiership reduced to 18 teams. These are very unlikely to change in the near future, and it’s the same with Super League.