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Dominate the Rugby Deck with Wrestling and Surfing

The basic premise of wrestling is that when on the ground, you try to get to an upright position, while the brilliant pop on to your waxed Cadillac of a surfboard is a motion that Richie McCaw would be proud of.

You can pass the ball well, kick from nearly halfway, run like the wind and tackle like a monster.

But how good are you at getting involved when play goes to the ground?

How are your deck skills?

The primary ability needed when it comes to the ground is the ability to quickly get back to your feet.

After 80 minutes, this is easier said than done.

Sometimes the movement will be mental, but physically without fitness and technique you will find it becomes harder throughout the match.surf.jpg

To the point where you will find yourself feeling that hard grass getting more comfortable every time you lie on it. If hard grass with sprig marks all over it feels like a waterbed, trust us, you are in trouble.

The other is the ability to lower your centre of gravity and bridge, a movement which is best suited to bending over a tackled player (after you have released them if you are the tackler, remember the laws) and trying to steal the ball.

This movement needs to be buttressed as you will have opposition players trying to clear the ruck.

Don’t think for a minute that this is just on attack, the ability to form this immense concrete statue over the ball is as valuable on defence.

Best of all, you are not going to the deck. With the right technique, if you can keep your feet when you are exposed to the chaos of the breakdown, you will last longer throughout the match.

Getting to your feet time after time will exhaust you like no other feat.

But the greatest skill to learn?

The ability to move on the deck in those precious moments before you become prone (assuming you are on the ground and cannot roll away).

The force of will to shift your body as falling so you present the ball to your team-mates, or the powerful art of manipulating how another person falls to the ground as you tackle them.

Three main areas.

Getting to your feet.

1.    Cardiovascular fitness. A must. Stand up and fall to the ground ten times over. Hard isn’t it?

2.    A constant practice of the ‘getting to your feet’ movement. Do it 50 times in a row in training and it will become a lot easier to do it during a game - yes, 50 times!

What about non-rugby aspects?

Wrestling and Judo can be excellent in this regard.

No, you are not Hulk Hogan and you most definitely are not a multiple Dan Black Belt in what is generally a passive or defensive martial art.

These disciplines are based on the fact that you are not only stronger and more potent on your feet, but are as powerful on the ground.

Crucially, when you are on the ground (the deck) not only are you out of the game.

Don’t get fancy.

But a wrestler or judoka is given a core skill that can translate to rugby, they are trying to get to their feet for the most part despite the attention of their opponent.

Standing over an opponent on the ground is an advantage, whether it be rugby or even war.

Just remember when you are on the rugby field you are not trying to pin someone or subdue them on the ground for 30 seconds!

Study this in rugby and martial arts, the movement when it comes to jumping up to get ready for the next play will become almost instinctive.

Knowing how to surf will also benefit.

If you can ‘pop’ up onto your board in swirling waves, then the strength needed for this fluent movement will also aid you when it comes to getting back onto your feet.

Surfing is ideal because the ultimate goal is to keep on your feet.

But for a moment, let us pretend you cannot stand up.

Then you need to rule the ruck.

The first law is that by rugby law, if you are on the ground, off your feet, you are out of the game.

Yes, yes, yes, we understand that you have watched a heap of rugby on television, there have been many plays where it seems like some players do naughty things while lying on the ground.

We are not overly keen on saying if you don’t get caught it isn’t cheating, but sometimes that cheeky hand or lazy leg can help your team at the breakdown.

Do you really want to help when it comes do dominating the deck though?

Then get to your feet.

And when you are not playing rugby, stand where you can, you will be surprised how keeping active off the field helps you jump back up on it.