As we move into the spring months, at some point along the way we will no doubt have a dabble at some 7s here or there, it might be a competition run by your club or an appearance for a side run by some mates. One thing is for sure though, it’s an environment most of us will feel exposed in.
I have played 7s during my career and I really enjoy the game, maybe not the fitness required but certainly the game and the space it offers you. This weekend gone (16 &17th April 2016) I was watching some of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Singapore and it got me thinking about the difference between the XV man game - apart from the obvious before I get the comments coming in!
From a coaching perspective, 7s can offer players so much in terms of understanding what is required to get better at specific aspects of the game. From passing skills, kicking technique, defensive understanding or even technique at the ruck, all of the skills need to be spot on as the game doesn’t forgive those who don’t execute them correctly. I know there is a difference in the local amateur tournament where players might have had a pint pre game compared to the professional game where athletes like Sonny Bill Williams roam the field, but essentially the same thing applies.
We spend a huge amount of time playing XVs to get better match practice but it might be better to play some more 7s along the way too. I think it would expose players to the pressure needed to develop skills. It’s one way we improve, performing skills under pressure and the game situation that is experienced in 7s is far different from that of XVs. There aren’t so many variables (other players for example!) which can influence different scenarios. The speed of the game and the regularity of which players will need to replicate skills suits learning. The more you complete a skills the more you learn, not only about the game but from a neural perspective too, you end up hardwired to be able to execute under pressure in the correct manner.
7s has all of the skills required to develop and better your rugby players at your clubs so why not build it into your new season’s coaching plans. Even if you use it to increase fitness at the same time it will help. We of course play 7s everywhere but if we sit down and think about what they game can develop then it might bring us something else to learn from and much quicker than the XVs game can help us learn!