Lions keep it simple in search for consistency

rugby09 May 2024 07:00
By:Brenden Nel
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Emirates Lions © Gallo Images

If there has been one factor that has hampered the Emirates Lions hopes of a top eight place in Vodacom United Rugby Championship this season it has been their own inconsistency.

In fact, the only thing that has been consistent about them has been their inconsistency. One week they manage to play some exceptional rugby and the next week they fall flat, looking as if the previous week’s game was a mirage.

It has been a frustrating turn of events not only for the Lions themselves, but for their fans as they still have an outside chance of making the top eight and qualifying for next season’s Investec Champions’ Cup.

With that in mind, the Lions have put a renewed focus on consistency, and in doing that have adopted the KISS principle - for those who aren’t familiar, it stands for Keep it Simple Stupid.

Ok, perhaps they didn’t add the second S to the equation, but the simplicity aspect, coupled with a renewed focus on calmness is what they take into this weekend’s crucial home game against Cardiff.

The Welsh side last won a game on boxing day, but they are more than a handful and have been exceptionally unlucky this season, losing many of their games by less than seven points.

Still, the Lions need to focus on getting themselves right, especially after their poor showing against Munster and the lacklustre performance that saw them lose that game by quite a large margin.

Assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher fronted up ahead of the game, and said the team had taken an approach of back to basics - to get the calmness in their ranks and to allow the side’s decision-makers to make clear concise decisions.

“We touched on it and today the focus of our training session was calmness. To make sure they bring the right energy, clear communication and calmness. Credit to Munster, they put us under a lot of pressure but our error rate allowed them to put us under a lot of pressure,” Loubscher said.

“Hopefully we can take the lessons from that game and take it into the Cardiff game.”

It may be easier said than done. For the past few seasons the Lions have struggled with consistency but Loubscher believes there is a formula you can follow to get to this point.

“It starts in training. If you look at all our decision-makers, a lot of them are young players who get put under pressure. And if that happens, you have to simplify your plan and keep it simple, make it easy options.

“We feel the pressure. But we need to take it game by game. The biggest mistake is to think what worked against Leinster will work against Munster. When you are under pressure, it is more about making sure you keep it simple. Simplicity is the answer and we have a default plan. Hopefully against Cardiff we can execute that plan.

“It starts in training, it is about bringing a lot of calmness and clear communication and the right energy, making good decisions.”

And the Lions know that Cardiff would be buoyed by Munster’s success at altitude.

“If you look at the stats they are very good defensively, they bring a lot of double hits, a lot of two man tackles, a lot of choke hits. They are forcing a lot of turnovers. The biggest mistake for us is to believe it is just going to happen. We need to earn the right to score tries.

“We need to get into the right positions on the field, get a good setpiece and get over the gainline. Make sure we are making good decisions to use those opportunities.”

The Lions will name their side on Friday for the clash, but will have to wait until Saturday evening to see if their renewed approach has paid off and kept their top eight hopes alive.