drawings of muscles and exercise apparatus

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Myoquip Myotruk Resistance Training Machine

by Tom Carter

(Article adapted from an assignment submitted in the course, Applied Biomechanics in Strength and Conditioning, in the Masters of Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) program at Edith Cowan University)

Abstract

The MyoTruk accommodating resistance machine promotes strength and power training development for the muscle groups responsible for triple extension. The MyoTruk, one of MyoQuip's “Myo-” range of strength equipment, embodies direct-linkage force transmission and replaces the ScrumTruk. Since its introduction in 2004 the ScrumTruk has been routinely used for enhancing the basic strength, muscle mass and explosiveness of rugby union players of all levels and ages. This paper examines the MyoTruk and its capacity to facilitate strength, power and speed development, whilst concurrently comparing it to traditional weight training exercises such as variations of the squat and Olympic type lifts. It examines the MyoTruk’s capacity to enhance the physiological capacities of athletes within the game of rugby union.

Kinematic features and performance characteristics of the MyoTruk

MyoQuip’s mission is to develop fundamentally innovative resistance training equipment with a particular focus on lower body power and core stability development. Each individual machine embodies Broad Biomechanical Correspondence (BBC) technology with a specific focus upon:

1. Strength development exercises that promote the kinematics of triple extension

2. The activation and strengthening of specific muscle groups throughout the entire range of motion

3. The development of speed and power capacities specific to particular sports.
Figure 1: The MyoQuip MyoTruk triple extension strength/power training machine

The two most critically distinguishing features of the MyoTruk are the horizontal pushing position of the athlete and the use of MyoQuip's BBC technology, ensuring constantly increasing resistance throughout the range of the exercise movement.

The MyoTruk is a very effective strength and power training alternative and/or complement to the barbell squat in building strength in the gluteal, hamstring and quadriceps muscle groups. In addition to its unique consistent resistance training throughout range the MyoTruk also reduces the compressional forces on lower back that can be attained at times by traditional squatting exercises.(4) Figure 2 below illustrates the biomechanical starting position of the MyoTruk. The hip and knee joint starting angles are able to be adjusted to below 90° if a greater range of movement is desired, but as discussed the integral component of the machine is the ability of the back and spine to maintain normal curvature. (24)

Figure 2: Kinematic and biomechanical features of the MyoTruk - Tom Carter demonstrating starting position for the MyoQuip MyoTruk - note back and shins parallel to ground - hip and knee joint angles at 90º (25)

Figure 3 below illustrates the functional benefits of the MyoTruk as the extension position facilitates the demands of many sports, in particular football codes where extensor strength plays an integral role in the development of speed, power and force characteristics. The triple extension position is able to be attained without the same risks associated with conventional resistance exercise. This perspective is elaborated upon further on within the article.


Figure 3: Tom Carter demonstrating full extension on the MyoQuip MyoTruk - hip and knee joint angles change at same rate. No adverse consequences from attempting to use excessive weight - athlete cannot be trapped under heavy load unlike barbell squat or 45° leg press (25)

The horizontal trunk position stimulates co-contraction of the stabilising muscles of the pelvic and abdominal regions whilst simultaneously providing full-range effective activation of leg extensors from start to complete lock-out.(25) Further, the synchronicity of hip and knee joint angles ensures appropriate distribution of effort between gluteus maximus and quadriceps muscles through extension phases and gluteus and hamstrings during eccentric re-loading phases. The final functional characteristic of the MyoTruk resistance machine is strong activation of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf during significant dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the ankle joint.(25)

MyoTruk’s influence on speed and power development

From a training safety and injury prevention perspective the main mechanical advantage of the MyoTruk compared to squat variations lies in its ability to facilitate below parallel (<90º) resistant training throughout range of motion. Compared to the “sticking point” encountered in squat movements, which often occurs at periods when the lifter is moving from a horizontal thigh position through the sticking point (approximately 30º above horizontal).(19,20) The tendency with the squat for excessive trunk lean predominantly occurs at the lowest point of the squat, when the angle at the hip joint is significantly less than at the knee joint.(20) The great difficulty often facing athletes and their coaches is the ability to develop strength and power through range in the lower body with minimal potential of injury occurring.(10)

Triple extension movements in resistance training can be defined as those that involve the extension of the three major joints: hip, knee, and ankle. These three joints, when moved from the flexed to extended position create the explosiveness needed to apply force with the feet against the ground.(8) Extension movements facilitate the main factor involved in the generation of explosive strength. As such it is widely believed that the triple extension is the most important physiological component for enhanced speed-strength training and development. Speed-strength training is a combination of maximum speed and maximum strength, which combined can produce a tremendous amount of force. This force is what we want on the playing field when the foot hits the ground.(8) This has practical applications to sports specific elements such as running the ball into contact in the game of rugby union.

Traditionally it has been proposed that Olympic lifting exercises such as the snatch and clean and jerk variations facilitated the greatest development of triple extension.

Roman and Shakirzyanov (1978) proposed that:
The explosion during an Olympic lifting exercise is executed by the simultaneous action of the muscles of the legs and torso… From this position, the athlete extends his legs and torso and rises up onto his toes and…the shoulders are elevated…Such a position is the most advantageous condition for maximal utilization of the participating muscle groups and the subsequent transfer to the barbell upward.(21)

However the MyoTruk resistance-training machine provides a significant and contemporary alternative to the traditional Olympic lifting methods which have been proposed to enhance triple extension. Not only does the MyoTruk enhance triple extension with increased efficiency of movement; it involves a significantly less intensive time period spent learning complex movement patterns that occur in Olympic weightlifting exercises. The MyoTruk facilitates triple extension development both through traditional strength training paradigms and also dynamically without the same impacts on time limitations of the athlete and coach, the central nervous system and the musculosketal system.

When developing speed and power the muscles of the hip extensors are of the most critical importance because they are usually the weak links in the large majority of athletes.(3) These muscle groups, in particular the glutes, hamstrings, and those of the lower back, are specifically targeted and developed by the MyoTruk. The primary goal of maximal strength exercises is to increase the force or strength producing capabilities of muscles. Through developing strength with various speeds throughout range of motion, the athlete has a subsequent increase in the contractual force producing capabilities of the muscles that are involved in the movement and consequent sporting performance.(3) The MyoTruk allows consistent resistance to be moved throughout range and as such has significant sports specific and functional training connotations. Heavy resistance training results in increases in the contractile rate of force development (RFD), impulse and efferent neuromuscular drive of human skeletal muscle allowing for subsequent transformation into enhanced sports specific speed and power characteristics.(1)

A distinguishing characteristic of the MyoTruk in terms of strength training lies in its ability to be eccentrically controlled so efficiently throughout range whilst the athlete maintains normal lumbar curvature. This has further positive implications for the ability of the MyoTruk to generate strength and power development. Eccentric deceleration is integral in absorbing a load as well as enhancing the elastic potential of the muscle.(14) The elastic energy stored in the series elastic elements (which includes the tendons, the aponeuroses, cross-bridges, actin, myosin filaments and the giant protein Titin) in the eccentric phase is re-used during the concentric phase.(22)


Sports specific connotations: the MyoTruk and the game of rugby union

Dynamic strength is defined as the maximal ability of a muscle to exert a force or torque at a specified velocity.(20) Explosive muscle strength can be defined as the rate of rise in contractile force at the onset of contraction.(1) Rugby union is a dynamic and explosive strength-based sport involving a significant number of collisions both in attack and defence. Successful performance in rugby union is significantly influenced by the physiological capabilities of the athlete; therefore performance can be significantly improved through the implementation of an effective resistance training program. An effective resistance training program should be run in conjunction with dynamic sport specific training. The ability to be able to produce force throughout time (impulse), possess dynamic strength capacities at contact situations and utilise a vast array of different speed attributes are all critical features within the game of rugby union. Figure 4 illustrates the manner in which heavy resistance strength training and ballistic plyometrics have the ability to positively interact with the force time curve and further enhance the strength attributes defined above:


Figure 4: Isometric force: time curve indicating maximal strength, maximal rate of force development, and force at 200 ms for untrained, heavy-resistance strength-trained, and explosive-strength-trained subjects.(11,12)


The MyoTruk resistance-training machine facilitates the development of maximal rate of force development (MFRD) through enhancing the dynamic and explosive strength capacities of the athlete. Through using the MyoTruk both ballistically and through a normal range of speed a variety of aspects along the force/time curve are able to be enhanced. The MyoTruk has the capacity to be used as a vehicle that can extend the force/time curve both vertically and horizontally improving a variety of capacities simultaneously and/or individually. Specifically regarding the game of rugby union, the greater the capacity of the athlete to produce force within the initial <150ms, the greater the ability to create advantageous situations. An enhanced ability to generate speed, power and forceful movements repeatedly over time provides a significant advantage both in attack and defence within a game.(23) This perspective is further enhanced with the continued development of such strong defensive systems and patterns within the modern game leading to the dominance of such orientated teams. However the ability to break these systems down through enhanced physiological capabilities provides a significant opportunity to greatly influence the nature of how the game of rugby union is actually played.(6)

The development of maximal strength of both the agonist and antagonist muscle groups, particularly in the lower limbs is important within the game of rugby union.(26) The role of eccentric strength training in power development was mentioned previously but obviously the strength development of antagonist muscles should not be neglected for athletes who require rapid limb movements, as research suggests enhanced strengthening of the agonist muscles increases both limb speed and accuracy of movement as well as further enhancing positive alterations in the neural firing patterns.(14) This in conjunction with maximal strength training significantly enhances the capacity of the stretch-shorten cycle (SSC).(22)


The MyoTruk effectively enhances power and speed development, and in particular the SSC, through the kinematic structure and motion of the machine not only through eccentric motion but more specifically for the ability to develop sport specific ballistic and explosive extensor strength development as previously discussed after a pre load effect and through a variety of different ranges (above or below 90º in thigh angle). This has practical applications for not only ball carrying and scrummaging facets within the game of rugby union but also at breakdown contests as well.

• Players covered on average 6,953 m during play (83 minutes). Of this distance, 37% (2,800 m) was spent standing and walking, 27% (1,900 m) jogging, 10% (700 m) cruising, 14% (990 m) striding, 5% (320 m) high-intensity running, and 6% (420 m) sprinting.

• Greater running distances were observed for both players (6.7% backs; 10% forwards) in the second half of the game.

• Positional data revealed that the backs performed a greater number of sprints (>20 km•h-1) than the forwards (34 vs. 19) during the game. Conversely, the forwards entered the lower speed zone (6-12 km•h-1) on a greater number of occasions than the backs (315 vs. 229) but spent less time standing and walking (66.5 vs. 77.8%)

• Players were found to perform 87 moderate-intensity runs (>14 km•h-1) covering an average distance of 19.7 m (SD = 14.6). Average distances of 15.3 m (backs) and 17.3 m (forwards) were recorded for each sprint burst (>20 km•h-1), respectively.

• Players exercised at <80 to 85% Vo2max during the course of the game with a mean heart rate of 172 b•min-1 (<88% HRmax)


Table 1: The physiological demands of the game of Rugby Union (5)


Further, the kinematic motion of the MyoTruk has positive implications on the functional demands of sprinting within the game of rugby union (See Table 1 above) for detail on the physiological demands of the game. The speed at which a player begins to sprint can affect the body position with the game at certain times. Data shows that forwards perform 41% of all accelerations from a standing start, 21% from walking and only 6% from striding.(6) In order to maximise acceleration from a standing start, a low body position is needed. Therefore the ability to generate strength and force in a horizontal fashion throughout range of the exercise provides distinct functional advantages of forwards using the MyoTruk as a resistance-training machine in their particular athletic development. Backs have also been shown to perform 29% of all sprints from a standing start; however they also perform an average of 8 sprints more than forwards do from a striding start.(6)

The ability to generate force off the mark and extensor strength is still critical and thus maximal strength properties obtained through use of the MyoTruk would benefit performance greatly. The type of start initiating the sprints can also affect different muscular recruitment patterns. Short sprints from a standing start involve the quadriceps muscles more and require high relative strength, whereas when a player approaches top speed the hamstrings are strongly recruited.(10) The nature of the game can also affect body positions in preparation to sprint. For example, using a blitz-like defence requires a low body position to maximise speed over 5-10 m. Reactive support play, however, requires a more vertical body position as the player is probably already maximally accelerating to keep pace with the attacking ball carrier.(6)


References

1. Aagaard, P and Andersen, J.L (1998) Correlation between contractile strength and myosin heavy chain isoform composition in human skeletal muscle. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30:1217-1222


2. Astorino, T. and Kravitz, L. (2001) Glycogen and Resistance Training. IDEA Personal Trainer No.4

3. Baggett, K (2007). The Vertical Jump Development Bible. Higher Faster Sports, 3rd Edition.

4. Campbell C. and Muncer, S.J (2005). The cause of low back pain: a network analysis. Social Science and Medicine 60:409–419.

5. Cunniffe, B., Hore, A.J., Whitcombe, M.J., Jones, K.P., Baker, J.S and Davies, B. (2009). Time course of changes in immuneoendocrine markers following an international rugby game. European Journal of Physiology

6. Duthie, G.M., Pyne, D.B., Marsh, D.J. and Hooper, S.L. (2006). Sprint patterns in rugby union during competition. J Strength Cond Res. 20(1):208-14.

7. El-Abd, J. (2005). An objective time-motion analysis of elite rugby union. Sports Medicine, 33(13):973-991.

8. Escamilla, R.F. and Garhammer, J. (2002). “Biomechanics of Powerlifting and Weightlifting Exercises.” Exercise and Sports Science. Eds. Garrett and Kirkendale. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. p 585-615.

9. Fitts, R.H, Mc Donald, K.S., and Schluter, J.M. (1991). The determinants of skeletal muscle force and power; their adaptability with changes in activation pattern. Journal of Biomechanics 24,1:111-122

10. Francis, C (2002). Charlie Francis 2002 Forum Review, (e-book) available from CharlieFrancis.com

11. Hakkinen, K. and P.V. Komi, 1985a. Changes in electrical and mechanical behaviour of leg extensor muscles during heavy resistance strength training. Scand. J. Sports Sci 7:55-64.

12. Hakkinen, K. and P.V. Komi, 1985b. The effect of explosive type strength training on electromyography and force production characteristics of leg extensor muscles during concentric and various stretch-shortening cycle exercises. Scand. J. Sports Sci 7:65-76.

13. Hutton, R. S (1992). Neuromuscular basis for stretching exercises in Komi ed. Strength and Power Training for Sport, Blackwell, and London.

14. Jaric, S., Rupert, M. Kuok, and D.B.Ilic. (1995) Role of agonist and antagonist muscle strength in rapid movement performances. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 71:464-468

15. Kraemer, W.J and Hakkinen, K (2002). Strength training for sport.

16. Kraemer, W. J and Newton, R. U. (1994). Training for improved vertical jump. Sports Science Exchange, 7(6):1-12

17. McLaughlin, T.M. (1975). A kinematic analysis of the parallel squat as performed in competition by national and world-class powerlifters. Microform Publications. Eugene: University of Oregon, College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

18. McLaughlin, T.M., Dillman, C.J. & Lardner, T.J. (1977). A kinematic model of performance in the parallel squat by champion powerlifters. Medicine and Science in Sports, 9:128-33.

19. McLaughlin, T.M., Lardner, T.J. & Dillman, C.J. (1978). Kinetics of the parallel squat. The Research Quarterly, 49:173-89.

20. Moore, R.L and Sully, J.T (1984) Myosin light chain phosphorylation in fast and slow skeletal muscle in situ. Am. Journal of Physiology. 143:257-262.

21. Nindl, B.C., Kraemer, W.J., Marx, J.O., Arciero, P.J., Dohi, K., Kellogg, M.D. and Loomis, G.A. (2001) Overnight responses of the circulating IGF-1 system after acute, heavy resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology 90:1319-1326.

22. Rimmer, E and Sleivert, G (2000). Effects of Plyometric Intervention Program on Sprint Performance. J Strength Cond Res14(3):295-301

23. Roman, R.A. and M.S. Shakirzyanov. (1978) The Snatch, The Clean and Jerk. Moscow: Fizkultura I Sport, English translation Andrew Charniga Jr. Livonia: Sportivny Press.

24. Ross, B. (2004). Squat or ScrumTruk: which is best for leg extensor training for athletes? http://myoquip.com.au/Squat_or_ScrumTruk.htm

25. Ross, B (2006). A biomechanical model for estimating moments of force at hip and knee joints in the barbell squat. http://www.myoquip.com.au/Biomechanical_model_squat_article.htm

26. White, C (2006). Charlie Francis.Report from 1-1 Internship with Craig White (2nd April – 11th April)

27. Worrell, T.W. (1994). Factors associated with hamstring injuries. Sports Medicine 17:338-345.

28. Wolfe, R.R. (2001). Control of Muscle protein breakdown: effects of activity and nutritional states. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 11:164-169

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giants of the midfield – the rise of the 100kg inside centre in rugby

Over the past few decades the bodyweight of international rugby players has been consistently increasing. In the main such increases have occurred gradually, a reflection of improvements in resistance training and nutrition which have enabled hypertrophy gains without sacrificing speed and mobility.

A comparatively recent development, however, seems to be a deliberate preference for the use of very heavy players in the backline, most notably in the inside centre position. This would appear to reflect a fundamental rethinking of the role of the 12. Consider the following table showing the body weights of midfielders used by major countries in the European Autumn internationals:

Five-eighths

Inside Centres

Outside Centres
AustraliaCooper 84Barnes88Ashley-Cooper98
EnglandFlood91Hape102Banahan115
FranceTraille100Jauzion105Rougerie104
IrelandSexton92D'Arcy93O'Driscoll95
ItalyOrquera78Sgarbi101Canale94
New ZealandCarter92Nonu102Smith95
ScotlandParks91Morrison103Ansbro92
South AfricaSteyn88de Villiers100Steyn100
WalesBiggar90Bishop93Hook92
Data from espnscrum.com site

Body Weights of Tri Nations and 6 Nations Midfielders - Nov 2010


The table lists players in the 10, 12 and 13 positions for the nine Tri Nations and 6 Nations teams in matches played on the 19th and 20th of November. It can be seen that six of the nine inside centres weighed 100kg or more. Only three outside centres and one five-eighth met that weight standard.

Of the sub-100kg 12s, D’Arcy of Ireland and Bishop of Wales each weighed 93kg while the Australian Barnes weighed only 88kg. Significantly the Wallabies have also played the 85kg Giteau at 12 on this tour while the All Blacks have made use of the 108kg Williams.

Traditionally the 12 was the more thick set of the two centres although by no means a huge player. He could play a crash ball type game but also had the speed and agility to be able to exploit gaps. He was expected to be a very solid defender who could cover if necessary for the less robust 10.

Reflecting its labelling of the 10 and 12 positions as first five-eighth and second five-eighth, New Zealand pioneered the practice of replacing a conventional inside centre with a player whose skill set and experience were those of a 10. More recently there has been a general tendency and expectation for five-eighths to attack the line rather than playing an essentially “white shorts” game. Having two light-framed players side by side each attempting to explore gaps encourages a very aggressive defensive reaction.

Possibly because of this many countries, including New Zealand, have gone back to a more conventional inside centre but with the important difference that these players are now very large and physically imposing. The notable exception to this trend is Australia.

The Deans experiment

Robbie Deans has now been coaching the Wallabies for just under three years. I have previously written about the physical conditioning regime which Deans and his strength and conditioning coach Peter Harding have implemented (“The Wallabies – sprinters not stayers”). But it is the type of backline structure and play that he has been developing that will distinguish his tenure as national coach.

As can be seen from the table below, when Deans took the Wallabies to Europe in 2008 their body weight and age profiles were little different to what they were two years previously. Two years later the average body weight and average age of the backs have declined dramatically:


2006 Squad

2008 vs. England (Nov)

2010 vs. England (Nov)
Average body weight (kg)102.6 102.199.7
Average body weight - forwards111.1110.6110.3
Average body weight - backs91.892.487.6
Average age (yrs)26.126.625.1
Average age - forwards26.826.4
Average age - backs26.423.6
2006 data from “Building bigger and stronger rugby players – the Sydney University experiment”; 2008 and 2010 data from espnscrum.com.site

Body Weight and Age Statistics - Wallabies 2006 to 2010


The 2010 backs are on average 4.8kg lighter than those of 2008 and 2.8 years younger. The inside centre on the earlier tour was Stirling Mortlock who at 100kg was 15kg heavier than his successor Matt Giteau. During his tenure Deans has taken on tour quite a number of very young and small backs while ignoring or discarding heavier and more robust players. His desire to groom such players creates a potential imbalance which would seem to be reflected in the figures in the table.

Typically his backlines contain four players who would be classed as playmakers and inevitably the 12 position is filled by a back-up five-eighth. Having a small 12 and multiple playmakers in the one backline may prove to be an inspired strategy, although it hasn’t yet yielded obvious dividends. Clearly this approach is at odds with the current thinking of the other leading nations who all appear to have identified the inside centre position as requiring a very big player. Presumably next year’s World Cup will determine which approach prevails.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Towards an observational economics of business behaviour: the horizontal supply curve, 'fuzzy' demand and other anomalies for conventional theory

[This article does not really belong in this blog, but it is something I wrote in 1996 and I wanted to ensure that its full text was readily available on the internet]

Abstract

This paper proposes the development of an 'observational economics' whose domain would be restricted to what is observable in the real world. Observational economics should be regarded as a separate but complementary undertaking to mainstream economics. Adoption of such an approach would enhance the reestablishment and development of interaction between economists and the business community. Phenomena such as price setting, unpredictable and variable demand, and inventories and order backlogs are argued to be anomalous from the viewpoint of conventional microeconomics, but fundamental to an observational perspective on business behaviour. A basic observational model of price and output determination for the price setting manufacturing firm is outlined.
Link to PDF version of the full paper
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Robbie Deans on wanting

It's not often you get an insight into the mental processes of an international rugby coach. Here's Wallabies coach Robbie Deans interviewed after his team's win in the Bledisloe Cup match in Hong Kong:

"James is one of those blokes who wants the ball in those moments as you saw with his carry, and that's what you want.
"The bloke who's got the ball you want to want to have the ball."

Rugby is the most cerebral of games.

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Juxtaposed cliches

A classic:

"When you have a bad day at the office you just have to get straight back on the horse." All Black captain Richie McCaw interviewed after his team lost the Bledisloe Cup match in Hong Kong.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aussie coach introduces MyoQuip systems to British rowing

London Rowing Club coach Phil Bourguignon
London Rowing Club coach Phil Bourguignon has persuaded the club to instal the equipment that helped make his previous club, Sydney University, the leading rowing club in Australia. London RC recently became the first European rowing club to use the revolutionary MyoTruk and MyoThrusta machines as the basis of their strength conditioning.

After four very successful years as Director of Rowing at Sydney University Boat Club, Phil Bourguignon was looking for a new challenge. He found it in the Thames-side London Rowing Club, thus moving between two of the world’s oldest rowing clubs. SUBC had been founded way back in 1860 but LRC is even more venerable dating from 1856.

It is typical of Bourguignon that he took no time off between finishing up in Sydney in December last year and moving into the boat house at Putney. Back in Australia, juggling club and national team commitments, he had coached year round refusing to take vacations. In 2006 he was quoted as saying: “They say I’ve got four weeks off, but no … Athletes, their bodies don’t know what time off is. They’ve got to be trained every day. Athletes don’t know when holidays are.”

His work schedule was unrelenting, involving 15-hour days during the week, waking at 4:30 am and getting home at 8 pm. And he had no reprieve at weekends. His only free time was on Sunday afternoons when he often accompanied his mates out for a quiet beer but he was so exhausted that he often fell asleep after the second beer.

“Fortunately, I love waking up every morning,” Bourguignon said. “I love it because I’ve got such a great diversity of athletes, that I’m seeing something new every day. I see a change in somebody that wasn’t there yesterday and I say, ‘Yes! Thank God, that’s it, stay with that.’

“And you really look forward to waking up to see that.”

A feature of the Bourguignon approach was to strive to stay upbeat and full of energy in front of his athletes so they would act likewise.
Phil Bourguignon monitoring MyoTruk technique at Sydney University
“If I’m enthusiastic, they’ll be enthusiastic,” he said. “If I’m tired and morbid, there’s no way they’ll working hard. I can change the way they act in the boat shed by the way I act.”

He was renowned for never going out, preferring to stay home and watch video of his athletes so he could prepare them as best he could for their next challenge. When the athletes worked out in the gym during the afternoon, Bourguignon stood by their side, offering advice on how they could improve.

“I enjoy working with people’s psychology; I enjoy working to understand how people interpret things, how to make them tick and make them go better, just in their mind,” Bourguignon said. “I like working with a variety of people.”

He learnt how to focus on detail during a year he spent at the Australian Institute of Sport as a scholarship coach before coming to the SUBC. At the AIS Bourguignon learned how to coach precisely, how to coach every stroke. As he put it, he learned about “finding the inch that’s gonna win the race.”

For an unashamed workaholic, London Rowing Club offers the ideal environment. Bourguignon’s apartment is right above the boathouse.

At Sydney University Bourguignon coached rowers to win World Championships and Olympic medals. At London his focus is much more on medalling at Henley. Instead of coaching university students, his new charges typically work long hours in the professions or in the City. Consequently their training has to be much more concentrated. This is where Bourguignon sees the two MyoQuip machines as invaluable, enabling heavy strength work to be done very intensively and safely:

"After a long session on the water, backs are fatigued. Therefore, squatting after rowing is very dangerous. With the use of the MyoThrusta and the MyoTruk systems, athletes can still do their heavy weights after a long and hard session on the water." He noted that in Sydney he had “employed the MyoThrusta and the MyoTruk heavily in my training programs with athletes rowing at elite levels. I have not had one back injury to my athletes in 2 years of heavy training"

Back injuries tend to be endemic among elite rowers but there is the need to constantly strive for increased strength. Phil Bourguignon believes that he has found a means to avoid one while achieving the other:

"With rowing heavily involving the legs and core muscles, squatting alone provides many problematic issues such as an athlete not being able to support heavy weights through their core muscles. MyoQuip systems can do the extra weights without worrying about the core muscles, which provides more strength gain without the worries of injuries to the back.

"When athletes get too strong for their skeletal frame and core stability in squatting, they can use the MyoThrusta and the MyoTruk to increase strength safely where they can add far more weight than they are able to squat without the risk of injuring their back."


His name indicates Gallic ancestry but Phil Bourguignon’s broad Aussie accent gives the lie to that. It will be interesting to see what impact the boy from Brisbane has on Thames-side rowing.

(MyoQuip systems are now manufactured in England and distributed throughout Europe by Gen3 Kinematics who supplied the MyoThrusta and MyoTruk to London Rowing Club)

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Physical imposition rugby – the Sydney University system

I wonder how many people watching the 2010 Sydney Premiership Club Grand Final realised they were seeing a classic demonstration of a revolutionary style of play that I have termed “physical imposition rugby”.

The clash of Australia’s two most historic and successful clubs saw Sydney University triumph by 46 points to six; five tries to nil; and seven goals to two. Both sides were weakened by injuries from the previous week, Randwick losing five players and University two.

Game strategies based around physical domination are nothing new in rugby, but where the Sydney University style is innovatory is that it is not just based on the forwards overpowering their opposition but the whole team systematically grinding the other team down.

The foundation of the University system is a training methodology which involves minimal actual conditioning but rather an almost exclusive focus on heavy strength and speed training. The counter-intuitive result of this radical approach is that the team is renowned for its ability to finish over the top of its opposition, particularly in the final quarter of games.

If we take the Grand Final as a template of how physical imposition rugby should be played we can distinguish a number of defining characteristics.

Sydney University play is structured and methodical with an emphasis on patience and relentless control. In defence the team presents a “brick wall” across the width of the field and has confidence in its ability to continually repel attackers. Two or three players engage the ball carrier and try to drive him back, usually so effectively that multiple phases yield either no net gain or a loss of territory. The aim is to frustrate opponents so that they eventually lose the ball in a turnover or knock on.

Although multiple players usually make the tackle and attempt to secure possession, virtually no one is subsequently committed at the breakdown. This frees players to fan out at the sides of the ruck in readiness for the next assault on the defensive line. There is no attempt to slow the opposition ball down as the more tackles the team can make with multiple defenders engaging a single attacker the greater the toll on the opposition’s reserves of strength and fitness.

In possession, because of their enhanced physicality University players enthusiastically attack the line, often recruiting support players for the ball carrier even amongst the backs. In tight play they frequently vary the pick and drive from the back of the ruck with passing to a small pod of forwards standing four to five metres to the side of the ruck.

One of the distinguishing features of the Sydney University style as it has now developed is the use of big midfield players who function like forwards. Both centres in the Grand Final weigh around 105kg and play very physically.

Supplementing the trench warfare is a strategy of field position where the emphasis is on relentlessly going forward. Both Berrick Barnes and Luke Burgess kicked into Randwick’s defensive corners aided by a very committed chase typically led by Tom Carter. This produced defensive lineouts near the Randwick try line or hurried kick with insufficient angle to gain much distance.

When Randwick attempted to kick deep, University usually had at least a couple of players in position to receive the ball. Rather than floating a long pass across field the ball receiver typically elected to counter attack directly, often into a heavily populated area where they would get past at least a couple of defenders before being brought to ground. Then the process of physical imposition would continue.

University’s patience and relentlessness predictably caused frustration in the Randwick players giving an outstanding kicker in Barnes opportunities to keep the scoreboard ticking over to yield a 16-6 lead at half time. In the second half physical and mental fatigue caused Randwick to concede another 30 unanswered points.
During the match University played some very enterprising rugby but much of it came after they had softened up their opponents.

The precondition for playing physical imposition rugby is a specific type of fitness which is essentially anaerobic and heavily strength based. However it also requires exceptional mobility in order to contain and counter the opposition game plan. Technical proficiency in the set pieces and mauls is a primary focus, but it is a 15-man involvement in physical imposition that is the strategy’s defining characteristic.

Sydney University has demonstrated that physical imposition can be employed very effectively at a semi-professional club level and there is no reason why it wouldn’t be equally successful in a fully professional environment. However this would require radical rethinking of both player conditioning and the role and attributes of centrefield players.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wallabies - sprinters not stayers

Two months ago, before the start of the 2010 Bledisloe Cup series, I posted an article titled “Are the Wallabies being properly conditioned for the Tri Nations Tests?” I started off by pointing out:

“A characteristic of the Deans era Wallabies is their seeming inability to sustain their performance over the full 80 minutes of a game. This raises the question of whether their training methods are appropriate for the intense physical demands of modern international rugby. In short, is there enough emphasis on strength training?”

In that article I argued that the best way to assess the Wallabies’ performance was in Tests against the All Blacks. This was because “distance travelled is not really a relevant factor and both nations always endeavour to select their strongest team, so these matches provide an ideal environment to search for consistent patterns evident over a number of matches.”

We have since played another three Bledisloe matches.

On July 2008, in Deans’s first match against his home country, the Wallabies won the second half 17-7 and also won the match. From then on it has been an unbroken succession of losses in both the second half and the overall match. Here is the record of second half scores:

2 August 08 0-18
13 September 08 14-25
1 November 08 14-19
18 July 09 3-12
22 August 09 6-16
19 September 09 6-33
31 October 09 3-19
31 July 10 14-17
7 August 10 0-3
11 September 10 8-17

So that’s our sorry record. Ten straight games; ten losing second halves; ten matches lost.

In the second half we have scored on average 7 points; the All Blacks scored 17.9.

The reason is glaringly obvious – the physical conditioning of the Wallabies is inappropriate. Forget about half time scores; no one cares which horse is first past the post the first time around in the Melbourne Cup. And to pursue the horse racing analogy further, a horse won’t “get two miles” if it’s been trained to run a mile.

Rugby is a physically draining game played over eighty minutes. It is also not really an aerobic sport but rather an anaerobic sport where there is a huge premium on strength and power.

On June 28 the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article titled, “Don’t despair – fitter Wallabies might rise from last in Tri Nations rankings”. The author, Spiro Zavas, wrote:

“It is an open secret that many Waratahs and Brumbies players shirked their full training obligations in the Super 14. An unfortunate feature of the Wallabies, this season and last season, has been the way they have faded in the second half of Test matches. A fitter Wallabies team might convert those half-time leads to full-time victories.”

To address this problem “the Wallabies conditioning coach will monitor the entire squad with GPS tracking devices that will record the intensity of their training.” In other words the focus was on getting the players more aerobically fit.

It would appear that the traditional Australian approach of placing less emphasis on strength and physicality than any of the other major rugby countries has become more pronounced in the Deans era. Rather than pursuing maximum strength the Wallabies’ weights sessions have reportedly seen a heavy focus on bar-speed routines using loads as little as 30% of 1RM.

At what point will Robbie Deans and his strength and conditioning coach Peter Harding face up to the fact that the current approach is not working and requires fundamental revision?

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Monday, August 09, 2010

First Made-in-England MyoThrusta ready for shipment

Gen3 Kinematics, European distributors of the MyoQuip range of strength increasing equipment, have commenced the roll-out of machines manufactured at their facility in Farnborough, Hampshire.

The photo at left shows the first English-built MyoThrusta ready for packaging and delivery. Within the next few weeks more MyoThrusta and MyoTruk machines will be delivered to rugby and rowing clubs in England.

Mr Graham Naisbitt (shown at centre below), managing director of the three-generation parent company Gen3 Systems Ltd says that this new venture is a continuation of his company's commitment to British manufacture:

"Over the years too many proud British manufacturing companies have been forced to close or become mere importers of products made in low wage countries.

"As a family we are determined not to go down that road. We are totally committed to local manufacture, believing that with truly innovative products quality control and responsive and professional service back up are paramount."


Graham's sons, Alasdair and Andrew (shown left and right in the photo) are respectively CEO and Business Development Manager of Gen3 Kinematics. Alasdair says:

"Initially our main focus will be on marketing to clubs and schools in England, but before long we intend to have MyoQuip systems being used throughout Europe.

"We will be continually introducing new equipment to the MyoQuip range. Going forward we want Gen3 Kinematics and MyoQuip to be the brands that come to mind whenever anyone thinks about new ideas in physical conditioning."

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Jerry Yanuyanutawa the most powerful prop in world rugby?

This video shows Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Fijian-born Sydney University front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps at the University gym in September 2008.

video



Prior to 2007, Jerry had been a back rower, but changed to the front row under the tutelage of Trevor Woodman, England World Cup winning front rower and Sydney University scrum coach. For most of that season Jerry played Third Grade but was elevated to the Firsts by Woodman for the Sydney Premiership Grand Final won by University 34-11.

In 2008 he was the only non- Super 14 contracted player to make the Australia A squad for the Pacific Nations Cup. Also, during the Club Premiership season he scored 12 tries including one in the Grand Final again won by University 45-20. A highlight of that game was the dominance of the University front row comprising Yanuyanutawa, Nathan Charles and Laurie Weeks.

The video was shot during the week after that Grand Final, clear evidence that max strength work can be continued throughout the playing season.

So where does Jerry Yanuyanutawa rate among the strong men of rugby?

When the most powerful props in the world are discussed two names that invariably crop up are England’s Andrew Sheridan and New Zealand’s Carl Hayman. Both are credited with a 275kg squat, presumably for one rep. More recently Ben and Owen Franks, Crusaders and All Blacks props, have been mentioned as contenders for the title of world’s strongest rugby player. The All Blacks web site quotes scrum guru Mike Cron saying, “I was told yesterday they were doing about a 240kg squat.” But all of this is anecdotal with no actual evidence.

However, on July 8, 2007, a video titled “NZAllblacks in the Weight-room” was posted on YouTube. The description read: “Pushing Tin: Join the All Blacks in a gym workout and watch big Carl Hayman squat a personal best 220kg.” Hayman is shown box-squatting 220kg for three reps spotted by strength coach Ashley Jones.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Coefficients used to determine 1RM, a squat set involving 3 reps at 220 equates to a single rep of 249kg.

By the same measure Jerry Yanuyanutawa’s 6 reps with 260 equates to a single rep of 323kg! This means that Yanayanatawa's squat set would rate 30% heavier than Hayman's effort, although of course relative box heights need to be taken into account.

Tim Leahy, Jerry's strength coach at Sydney University, had long recognised that his player had freakish physical capacities. "It was just a matter of getting him to apply himself and stay focussed."

Fortunately throughout 2008 he responded to the challenge with Tim Leahy spending many hours one-on-one with his young charge; "The key to getting the best out of Jerry was to constantly vary his training tasks and to continually challenge him.”

“Jerry is a very gifted guy athletically with great genetics and an abundance of fast twitch fibre. Along with the then SUFC forwards coach and former English World Cup winning front rower Trevor Woodman the major focus we had for Jerry was to build a base of strength and power that would be a benchmark for front rowers worldwide.”

Significantly Yanuyanutawa’s max strength program involved quite limited actual squatting, with greater focus being placed on the Romanian deadlift and MyoTruk and MyoThrusta apparatus.

Making full use of his Melanesian genetic endowment Jerry Yanuyanutawa was able to record some outstanding speed and power numbers to match up with his prodigious efforts under the squat bar. As Tim Leahy notes, “During the actual playing season he was able to post best times of 1.71s and 5.38s for the 10 and 40 metres, as well as a vertical jump of 76cm. With a peak power output of nearly 9000 Watts, there is a lot of power that can be used at scrum time and during the collision.”

Jerry became something of a cult figure in Sydney club rugby with his barnstorming runs producing most of his 12 tries in 2008. As he says, “I like to get the ball in my hands and run. If there’s an opportunity to score a 20-metre try then I’ll back myself. Fijians are known for throwing the ball around a bit and I like that too. But I’m also learning the technical side with scrummaging and lifting [in lineouts] and learning to play within that team structure, but when I get out there I like to unleash and show what I’ve got.

“I do thrive in loose play and love to get my hands on the ball and run with it.” However, front rowers are never permitted to get too far away from their basic craft. “Trevor Woodman said to me none of that counts if you can’t scrummage or lift.”

Jerry’s first two seasons with the CA Brumbies were disrupted by injuries, but he is focussed on cementing a run-on spot for next year’s Super 15 season.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Triple extension activation using the MyoTruk accommodating resistance strength builder

The key factor in a sprint start is achieving triple extension out of the blocks, that is, extending the ankle knee and hip joints simultaneously. The same combination is required in the vertical jump.

The main resistance exercises used to train triple extension are Olympic lifts, i.e., the snatch and clean. However there is very limited movement of the ankle joint in these lifts. Only a moderate degree of plantar flexion is involved whereas in a sprint takeoff or a vertical leap the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are strongly and fully activated.

video
The MyoTruk accommodating resistance strength builder provides an alternative and more effective method of training for triple extension. As this video makes clear full range plantar flexion is automatically achieved in the exercise movement. It is also possible to train triple extension in each leg separately.

A further advantage of the MyoTruk is that its operation is intuitive. By contrast the Olympic lifts are very much learned movements which take considerable time to master.
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Jerry Yanuyanutawa, rugby front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps

video

This video shows Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Sydney University front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps at the University gym in September 2008.

Prior to 2007, Jerry had been a back rower, but changed to the front row under the tutelage of Trevor Woodman, the University's scrum coach. For most of that season he played Third Grade but was elevated to the Firsts by Woodman for the Sydney Premiership Grand Final won by University 34-11.

In 2008 Yanuyanutawa scored 12 First Grade tries including one in the Grand Final again won by University 45-20. A highlight of that game was the dominance of the Uni scrum.

This video was shot in the week after that Grand Final. Right throughout the season Jerry's strength coach, Tim Leahy, had kept Jerry on a max strength program, although the amount of squatting was limited. Instead the lower body strength work was focussed on the MyoQuip MyoTruk and MyoThrusta apparatus together with the deadlift.
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The ScrumTruk - an integral part of the Auckland strength and conditioning program

In November 2005 Auckland Rugby, through their then coach Pat Lam, installed a ScrumTruk, one of the first Myoquip machines to be exported from Australia. Now, almost five years on, the machine is still helping the Auckland squad in developing "strength and flexibility through the hips, back and shoulders"

The current strength and conditioning coach at Auckland is Simon Kent, proprietor of Dynamic Fitness Solutions. Simon sees the ScrumTruk as a very flexible tool for developing players:

"I use it with the boys in a number of different ways. It's a great way of teaching good body position especially for our young players. For the front row boys we load up the weight and the boys practice their engagement, with the heavy weight they can hit and 'squeeze' holding the position in an isometric hold.

"The more I am involved with the physical preparation of rugby athletes the more I believe in the importance of having strength and flexibility through the hips, back and shoulders. This enables the athlete to apply force more efficiently on the rugby field, the ScrumTruk is one tool that helps develop hip and back strength.

"The ScrumTruk allows me to teach correct scrum set-up and pushing position especially to our young athletes, for our more established athletes, the ScrumTruk provides a rugby specific strength training tool. ScrumTruk is a integral part of the Auckland strength and conditioning program."

The ScrumTruk has now been superseded in the MyoQuip range by the more advanced MyoTruk, but it still continues to give good service for a range of users internationally.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Are the Wallabies being properly conditioned for the Tri Nations Tests?

A characteristic of the Deans era Wallabies is their seeming inability to sustain their performance over the full 80 minutes of a game. This raises the question of whether their training methods are appropriate for the intense physical demands of modern international rugby. In short, is there enough emphasis on strength training?

It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from the team’s patchy performances in the June Tests as quality of the opposition and the effects of long distance travel were complicating factors. A more valid measure is how the team has performed against its closest neighbour. In contests between Australia and New Zealand distance travelled is not really a relevant factor and both nations always endeavour to select their strongest team, so these matches provide an ideal environment to search for consistent patterns evident over a number of matches.

In the ten Trans-Tasman Tests prior to Robbie Deans assuming control the Wallabies led at half-time in 3 matches, were level in 2 matches and were behind in 5 matches. In the second half the Wallabies outscored their opponents 4 times, scored equal points once and were outscored 5 times. Overall they won 3 games and lost 7.

There have been 8 Wallabies-All Blacks games since Deans has taken over. During this period the Wallabies won an impressive 6 out of 8 first halves, but lost 7 out of 8 second halves and 7 out of 8 matches! The one time when the Wallabies won the second half and the match was in July 2008, when Deans and his assistants had just taken over. Since then the team has lost every second half and every match.

On June 28 the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article titled, “Don't despair - fitter Wallabies might rise from last in Tri Nations rankings”. The author, Spiro Zavas, wrote:

“It is an open secret that many Waratahs and Brumbies players shirked their full training obligations in the Super 14. An unfortunate feature of the Wallabies, this season and last season, has been the way they have faded in the second half of Test matches. A fitter Wallabies team might convert those half-time leads to full-time victories.”

To address this problem “the Wallabies conditioning coach will monitor the entire squad with GPS tracking devices that will record the intensity of their training.” Distance covered is hardly an appropriate measure of intensity given that rugby players spend much of a training session in prolonged static physical engagements. But having been labelled “shirkers” it is totally predictable that the players will run themselves into the ground to impress their masters.

Unofficial feedback from Wallaby training in the lead-up to the Tri Nations is that the players are running hills three times a week as well as having forwards running 100 metres 10 times with a 20 second rest between and 200 metres 10 times with a 20 second rest.

So the overwhelming emphasis appears to be on trying to improve aerobic fitness which ignores the fact that rugby is a strength-oriented sport, certainly the most strength-oriented of all the football codes. Players need to have a solid strength base to be able to compete for 80 minutes.

Traditionally Australian rugby has placed less emphasis on strength and physicality than any of the other major rugby countries, and it appears that this has become more pronounced in the Deans era. Rather than pursuing max strength the Wallabies’ weights sessions have reportedly seen a heavy focus on bar-speed routines using loads as little as 30% of 1RM.

One of the enduring impressions of the 2007 World Cup was the ferocity of the Northern Hemisphere teams at the breakdown. It is probably too late to do much about the upcoming Tri Nations, but unless the approach to training changes dramatically the Wallabies are likely to be physically overpowered in New Zealand next year.

Read more...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Are Deans's Wallabies physically conditioned to last 80 minutes?

While there were some very encouraging signs in the Wallabies' performance against England in Perth it is significant that the home side was not able to build on their 14 point lead at half time and in fact lost the second half. This continues a quite worrying trend.

Last year there was intense speculation over the causes of the poor performance of the Wallabies during the Deans era, but one issue that has not been raised is whether their training has been appropriate for the intense physical demands of modern international rugby.

One indication that something is seriously wrong is the fact that the team has very frequently squandered a first-half lead. Of course there are so many factors that can influence how a game plays out that not much can be read into the scores in a particular game. The effects of long distance travel or a country fielding an under-strength team can have a major impact on the pattern of scoring.

However in contests between Australia and New Zealand distance is not really a relevant factor and both nations always endeavour to select their strongest team, so these matches provide an ideal environment to search for consistent patterns evident over a number of matches. Let's look at the last ten matches played between these countries prior to Robbie Deans taking over as coach. Australia is listed first with the first half scoreline, second half scoreline and overall result shown for each match.

15 Nov 03 13-7 W, 9-3 W, 22-10 W
17 Jul 04 0-3 L, 7-13 L, 7-16 L
7 Aug 04 12-12 D, 11-6 W, 23-18 W
13 Aug 05 13-3 W, 0-27 L, 13-30 L
3 Sep 05 5-20 L, 19-14 W, 24-34 L
8 Jul 06 7-14 L, 5-18 L, 12-32 L
29 Jul 06 6-10 L, 3-3 D, 9-13 L
19 Aug 06 20-11 W, 7-23 L, 27-34 L
30 Jun 07 6-15 L, 14-0 W, 20-15 W
21 Jul 07 9-9 D, 3-17 L, 12-26 L

It can be seen that the Wallabies won 3 of the first halves, drew 2 and lost 5. They won 4 second halves, drew 1 and lost 5. Overall they won 3 games and lost 7.

Now let's look at the stats for the eight Wallabies-All Blacks games since Deans has taken over:

26 Jul 08 17-12 W, 17-7 W, 34-19 W
2 Aug 08 10-21 L, 0-18 L, 10-39 L
13 Sep 08 10-3 W, 14-25 L, 24-28 L
1 Nov 08 14-9 W, 0-10 L, 14-19 L
18 Jul 09 13-10 W, 3-12 L, 16-22 L
22 Aug 09 12-3 W, 6-16 L, 18-19 L
19 Sep 09 6-16 L, 0-17 L, 6-33 L
31 Oct 09 16-13 W, 3-19 L, 19-32 L

Here we see that the Wallabies won an impressive 6 out of 8 first halves, but lost 7 out of 8 second halves and 7 out of 8 matches! Once the Deans coaching team had settled in, i.e., after the first Bledisloe match in July 2008, their team has lost very second half and every match. This looks like something more than random chance. The most likely culprit would seem to be inappropriate physical conditioning.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Waratahs’ ideal centre pairing – Carter-Horne

Over the past three seasons the Waratahs have been most successful in limiting opposition scoring and achieving a positive points spread by using Tom Carter at 12 and Rob Horne at 13.

From 2008 to 2010 four players have started at 12. Comparing them in terms of number of games in that position, average points scored by the Waratahs, points against and points difference:

Barnes 9, 30.1, 22.0, 8.1
Beale 5, 21.6, 22.0, -0.4
Carter 24, 20.6, 15.0 5.5
Tahu 3, 16.0, 16.7 -0.7

The average points spread has been greatest with Berrick Barnes at inside centre but the opposition was able to score points more freely than when Carter played in that position.

Over the same three years five players have started at 13. The stats:

Carraro 1, 18.0, 11.0, 7.0
Carter 8, 26.9, 23.0, 3.9
Horne 21, 21.9, 15.9, 6.0
Jacobs 7, 20.4, 17.3, 3.1
Tahu 4, 21.5, 17.5, 4.0

As we might expect, when Horne is at 13 opposition scoring is most restricted.

The Waratahs have used nine different centre combinations yielding the following performance stats:

Barnes-Carter 6, 29.8, 21.5, 8.3
Barnes-Horne 3, 30.7, 23.0, 7.7
Beale-Carter 2, 18.0, 27.5, -9.5
Beale-Tahu 3, 24.0, 18.3, 5.7
Carter-Carraro 1, 18.0, 11.0, 7.0
Carter-Horne 15, 21.3, 14.3, 7.0
Carter-Jacobs 7, 20.4, 17.3, 3.1
Carter-Tahu 1, 14.0, 15.0, -1.0
Tahu-Horne 3, 16.0, 16.7, -0.7

Barnes with either Carter or Horne outside him has yielded the highest points spread but hasn’t really contained opposition scoring. By contrast the pairing of Carter and Horne seems best able to create a defensive wall without restricting their team’s ability to score. Containing the opposition is usually a determining factor in finals football. Putting Carter and Horne together also makes sense in view of the number of games they have played together.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Could the Stormers miss the Super 14 semis?

With only one round remaining in the 2010 Super 14 there is still considerable uncertainty about three of the semi-final positions. The Bulls are certain to finish on top but there are five teams vying for the remaining three positions. Intriguingly each of these teams has to play another finals contender. The three relevant games are: Crusaders vs. Brumbies at Christchurch; Waratahs vs. Hurricanes at Sydney; and Stormers vs. Bulls at Cape Town.

The current competition points tally and points for-and-against difference for the five teams are:

Stormers 39 166
Waratahs 38 81
Brumbies 37 85
Hurricanes 37 51
Crusaders 36 75

The Reds are virtually no possibility of making the four. Mathematically there is only one way they could make it. They would have to win with a bonus point and the Stormers lose without any bonus points, plus they would have to make up the 90 points difference advantage that the Stormers hold over them.

The most likely semi-finalists are the Bulls, Stormers and the winners of the Waratahs-Hurricanes and Brumbies-Crusaders games. However both the Stormers if they lose and Crusaders even if they win are still vulnerable to a losing Waratahs sneaking past them. Not a likely scenario but it is still in their interests for the Waratahs to win.

If the Waratahs lose to the Hurricanes but earn two bonus points they will finish on 40 points. If the Stormers lose without earning a bonus point they will finish on 39 and thus miss out on the semis given that the Hurricanes and the winners of Brumbies-Crusaders will each finish on at least 40 points.

If the Waratahs lose to the Hurricanes but earn two bonus points and the Crusaders win without a bonus point they will both finish on 40. At present the Waratahs hold a six-point advantage over the Crusaders in terms of points difference, so if both the Waratahs-Hurricanes and Brumbies-Crusaders games had very tight finishes, the Waratahs could just nudge out the Crusaders.

In the semi-finals the Bulls will have a home game against the fourth finishing team, while the second finishing team will have a home game against the third finishing team.

The Stormers just need to beat the Bulls to lock in second place, but they should be hoping the Waratahs win or lose without earning the double bonus points in case they themselves lose.

The Waratahs need to win to secure their place, but will be hoping that both the Stormers and Brumbies lose so that they are assured of second place and a home semi.

The Brumbies are out unless they win, but could reach second spot if they have a bonus point win and the Stormers lose so long as the Waratahs don't have a bonus point win.

The Hurricanes are in if they win but out if they lose.

The Crusaders are out if they lose but at some risk of missing out even if they win. They should be hoping the Waratahs win or lose without earning the double bonus points.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

MyoQuip manufacturing hub shifts to Britain

Innovative Australian strength equipment company, MyoQuip Pty Ltd, is shifting its main centre of operations to the UK following the appointment of Farnborough-based Gen3 Kinematics as its exclusive manufacturing licensee for the European Union.

MyoQuip was initially established to exploit the invention of a fundamentally unique method of developing pushing power of rugby forwards. Its first product, the ScrumTruk, was adopted by the Wallabies, each of the Australian Super 14 franchises, other rugby clubs, universities and private schools and colleges.

The ScrumTruk employed MyoQuip’s Broad Biomechanical Correspondence (BBC) technology which operates as a compensation mechanism for biomechanical disadvantage. For example, in the bottom range of the barbell squat, the hip and knee joint muscles operate at a considerable biomechanical disadvantage but then move into progressively more advantageous orientation as the exerciser rises. By contrast the BBC technology provides effective loading and high-range muscle fibre recruitment throughout the whole range of the exercise movement.

Taking advantage of its links to Sydney University’s 300 sporting scholarship holders, MyoQuip has refined and expanded its range of equipment now employed for many different sports, making it ideal for users such as the New South Wales Institute of Sport. At Sydney University machines such as the MyoTruk and MyoThrusta are routinely used for strength enhancement and injury rehabilitation by world champions and Olympic medallists in rowing and women’s basketball.

Gen3 Kinematics is a newly formed division of Gen3 Systems Limited, a financially independent, family owned and operated business for over 40 years, now in its 3rd generation - hence Gen3.

Its origins, foundations and future activities are firmly based in engineering. Initially in heavy engineering; 2nd Generation interests developed in the electronics industry resulting in a globally successful operation as both original equipment manufacturers and as specialist distributors.

Now in 2010 the 3rd Generation is offering diversification into specialist health care systems that focus on Kinematic Engineering, specifically “Engineering Solutions for Healthy Living”.

MyoQuip Managing Director Bruce Ross said: “In many ways Australia offers an ideal environment for a company operating in a field such as ours. You have a population with an intense interest in competitive sport, and there is a general willingness to ‘have a go’ and try something new.
Unfortunately there are also disadvantages such as geographical remoteness and limited population.

It is a fundamental principle of business that you go where the market is. For some time we have searched for a suitable European business partner and were extremely fortunate to have been approached by Gen3 Kinematics whose business philosophy meshes so well with ours. The fact that MyoQuip and Gen3 are both family owned companies probably contributes to this.

Their considerable expertise in engineering and electronics will be of great benefit to our partnership.”

Gen3 Kinematics Managing Director Graham Naisbitt said: “We are honoured and delighted to be associated with the hugely successful MyoQuip business and relish the opportunity to develop the market here in Europe. With MyoQuip systems already in use with Northampton Saints, we look forward to exploring opportunities with schools, colleges and universities as well as the rugby clubs in both Union and League but also with many other sports and rehab facilities in rowing, football, in fact with any sport where high level conditioning is important.

This new partnership benefits from having the already well established Gen3 Systems organisation behind it that will permit faster business growth especially with the Olympics so nearly upon us.”

Contact:

Bruce Ross
MyoQuip Pty Ltd
Box 105
Holme Building
University of Sydney
NSW 2006
Australia

Phone: +61 (0)2 9566 4029
Mobile: +61 (0)4 0328 1988
Email: bross@pacific.net.au
Web: http://www.myoquip.com.au/

Graham Naisbitt
Gen3 Kinematics
B2 Armstrong Mall
Southwood Business Park
Farnborough
Hampshire GU14 0NR
UK

Phone: +44 (0)12 5252 1500
Email: sales@gen3kinematics.com
Web: http://www.gen3kinematics.com/

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

The key remaining games of the 2010 Super 14 with six weeks to go

A number of unexpected results have compressed the Super 14 points table but probably reduced the potential semi-finallists to eight teams.

The Australian media has focussed on the fact that the Waratahs are nominally top of the table, but they are there on sufferance as a consequence of not yet having had a bye. The real situation becomes clear after adjusting team points by adding four points for the bye. With this correction the current table becomes:

Bulls 32
Crusaders 29
Stormers 28
Waratahs 28
Reds 25
Chiefs 25
Brumbies 25
Blues 24
Hurricanes 18
Sharks 16
Cheetahs 13
Highlanders 11
Force 9
Lions 7

Thus the true position of the Waratahs is fourth place

It would now appear that the Hurricanes have virtually dropped out of contention, leaving eight points separating eight teams. As we have seen this week, teams in the bottom six are still capable of causing upsets, but the key matches are likely to be those between teams still in contention. Looking at the run home for each of them:

The Bulls on 32 have to play the Chiefs and Reds away, then finish with home games against the Crusaders and Stormers. They can no longer be regarded as certainties to make the semis but should get there.

The Crusaders on 29 are at home to the Waratahs, then away to the Stormers and Bulls, before hosting the Brumbies in the final round.

The Stormers on 28 are away to the Blues, Chiefs and Reds, at home to the Crusaders, then away to the Bulls.

The Waratahs on 28 are away to the Crusaders, at home to the Brumbies, then away to the Chiefs.

The Reds on 25 are at home to the Bulls and Stormers, then away to the Brumbies.

The Chiefs on 25 are at home to the Bulls, Stormers and Waratahs then away to the Blues.

The Brumbies on 25 are away to the Waratahs, at home to the Reds and away to the Crusaders.They may regret only having collected one bonus point thus far.

The Blues on 24 are at home to the Stormers and Chiefs.

It could be that the eighth-placed Blues, by virtue of their easier run home, may sneak into the finals series, but the qualifying teams and order of finishing may only be resolved in the final week

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The key remaining games in the 2010 Super 14

The Super 14 has now passed the halfway point with seven weeks remaining before the finals series. The points table presents a somewhat confusing picture, with some teams having played seven games and the others, having had a bye, only six. The situation becomes somewhat clearer if team totals are adjusted by allowing four points for the bye. With this correction the current table becomes:

Bulls 32
Stormers 27
Crusaders 27
Waratahs 23
Reds 23
Brumbies 21
Chiefs 21
Blues 20
Hurricanes 16
Cheetahs 13
Sharks 12
Highlanders 10
Force 5
Lions 3

It would appear that there are nine teams still with some prospect of making the semi finals; the Cheetahs, Sharks, Highlanders, Force and Lions having dropped out of contention. Although the bottom five may still cause the odd upset, the key matches are going to be those between the top nine.

Bonus points may still be important, although thus far there is a very limited spread of these extra points between the top nine. The Stormers, Crusaders, Waratahs, Reds and Hurricanes each have three; the Bulls and Blues have four; while the outliers are the Brumbies and Chiefs on one and five respectively.

Looking at the key matches for each of the nine in the run home:

The Bulls on 32 play away against the Blues, Chiefs and Reds, before finishing with home games against the Crusaders and Stormers.

The Stormers on 27 play away against the Blues, Chiefs and Reds, then a home game against the Crusaders, before finishing with an away game against the Bulls.

The Crusaders on 27 play away against the Hurricanes, then are home to the Waratahs, away to the Stormers and Bulls, before finishing at home to the Brumbies.

The Waratahs on 23 play away to the Crusaders, home to the Brumbies, away to the Chiefs, then home to the Hurricanes.

The Reds on 23 are at home to the Bulls and Stormers, then away to the Brumbies and Hurricanes.

The Brumbies on 21 are at home to the Hurricanes, away to the Waratahs, home to the Reds, then away to the Crusaders.

The Chiefs on 21 are at home to the Bulls and Stormers, away to the Hurricanes, home to the Waratahs, then away to the Blues.

The Blues on 20 are at home to the Bulls, Stormers and Chiefs.

Finally, the Hurricanes on 16 are at home to the Crusaders, away to the Brumbies, home to the Chiefs, and finally away to the Waratahs.

The key matches this weekend are Blues vs. Bulls and Hurricanes vs. Crusaders. If these go according to script the Blues and Hurricanes might basically drop out of contention. Unless one or more of the top three begin to drop a number of games, there is likely to be a fierce contest for the fourth semi spot between the three Australian contenders and the Chiefs. Matches between those four over the last three weeks: Waratahs - Brumbies, Brumbies - Reds, and Chiefs - Waratahs may well be the discriminator.

Of course, upset wins by the bottom five teams or an accumulation of bonus points may upset this logic.

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