Looking at the fact nearly a quarter of players have felt pressured by their club not to play for their country, Melville says: “Players should make choices themselves. If they want to play international rugby, they should be able to do that. If they don’t, that’s fine.“They shouldn’t be made by a contract or external forces because a player needs to maximise his career and do the best he can do.”As for the issues surrounding player load, Melville pointed to the need to monitor game time rather than changing the season structure. He explained that it is a delicate balancing act, with additional games being played in order to pay rising player salaries. Expand Nigel Melville responds to results of recent survey of international players Plus, a World XV of the year and… Why the formation of the International Rugby Players’… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Collapse Opinion: Players must have say in how rugby is run “Rather than looking at the structure and the number of games, look at the number of minutes people play so we can protect the players individually,” says Melville.“We have seen this autumn that some players seem to play all the time. If you take Beauden Barrett, he played a little bit less than Owen Farrell last year but no one complains about Beauden Barrett and he is travelling across time zones.“It’s not unique to English rugby. It’s about managing all our players’ numbers of minutes, numbers of games, and I think that is going to drop.“If people keep putting games in there for commercial reasons to be able to pay these players – that is why those games are there – you have to protect the players from those and say you have to have more players and play less minutes. You have to balance that equation.”That is easier said than done, though. Player welfare v rising salaries is not a simple equation to balance, but this survey has seen the players themselves highlight the pressures they face. Now it’s time for tangible plans to be put in place to solve those problems. As International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein says: “Player welfare can’t just be talked about, it needs to be acted upon.”Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Opinion: Players must have say in how rugby is run RFU insists player welfare is top of agenda“It is about putting the players at the centre of everything we do.” Those are the words of the RFU’s director of professional rugby Nigel Melville, who will become interim chief executive when Steve Brown steps down later this month.Melville was responding to the results of the recent players’ survey, which highlighted issues such as players being pressured to choose club over country and to play and train when not fully fit.Rugby World magazine teamed up with International Rugby Players on the survey – more than 350 Test players from 24 countries around the world took part – and you can read an in-depth report on the findings in the January 2019 issue, which is on sale now.MORE ON PLAYER WELFARE… Free 2019 calendar with the latest issue of Rugby World Free 2019 calendar with the latest issue of Rugby World read more
“There is always a period of pressure you will come under,” said Rodgers ahead of the trip to Sunderland. “You can have the ball a lot of the game and you will still have to defend at some points in that game. “You have to remain calm; the single biggest thing has been mistakes. “It is not so much structurally but we have a tendency at times to make mistakes and that has cost us. “That is something we work hard to get the players to eradicate from their game. “From the Crystal Palace game (when they lost 3-1 in late November) we needed to change, get back the model of our work, and from that we have slowly got back to a decent level again. “There is still a lot of work to do but part of that is to ensure we don’t give away silly goals.” West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham stand between Liverpool and Southampton in fourth but Rodgers remains confident, with the imminent return of striker Daniel Sturridge from a long-term thigh injury, it can be achieved. Press Association Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accepts his side will have to toughen up defensively if they are to challenge for the top four in the second half of the season. Conceding soft, straightforward goals has been an Achilles heel not restricted to just the current campaign, and the Reds’ problem has often been once they let in one they lose all composure and often look even more vulnerable. They have kept only five clean sheets in their last 37 matches and while their manager believes the seven-point gap to Champions League places is by no means insurmountable, they will have to do considerably better at the back. “It’s going to be tough but I am looking forward to the challenge,” he added. “We have a great spirit at the moment and footballing ideas are returning to our game and will push very hard in the second half of the season to bring success here. “The players are improving and we can see how seven points may seem a lot but it certainly can be whittled away. “You just have to consistently win games and perform well and that is our idea.” Rodgers has already said he does not expect to make many, if any, additions in the January transfer window despite continually being linked with numerous players. West Brom forward Saido Berahino is not a current target and Rodgers was non-committal on the latest speculation surrounding Manchester City’s James Milner. “James is a wonderful player, an outstanding footballer, but players get linked consistently here through agents trying to, by virtue of association, get a better deal,” he added. “I will never speak about any player until they were signed in the door. “You can fire a list of names at me and you will get the same response.” Rodgers also does not expect many departures, apart from possibly on loan. “If everyone stays there might be a few who need to go out on loan because they are not playing so much,” he said. “At this moment I wouldn’t envisage too many departures.” read more
Published on April 16, 2017 at 11:49 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds UPDATED: April 17, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.Editor’s Note: SU’s men’s lacrosse team has consistently been a national powerhouse. The Daily Orange took a look at the local high schools that feed players to the program. You can view the series here.CARTHAGE, N.Y. — To find the man who put Carthage, New York, on the map, drive north on Interstate-81, past both tractor and snowmobile crossing signs. After seeing the “Town of Champion” sign, keep going another few miles.Kirk Ventiquattro grew up in Carthage and after leaving briefly, he came back for good. He had a walk-on football offer at the University of Pittsburgh but turned it down because he was scared. He didn’t want to be unknown. That motivated his coaching career.“I really never wanted these guys to ever think they were nobodies from nowhere,” Ventiquattro said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Carthage lacrosse program began with a junior varsity team in 1988 and played its first varsity season in 1989. Ventiquattro launched it, after learning the game years earlier as a student at SUNY Cortland. His fiery attitude helped immediately instill a winning foundation and six of his former players went on to play at Syracuse. That includes the Powell brothers (Casey, Ryan and Michael) as well as Josh Coffman, all four of which were first-team All-Americans at SU. The three Powell brothers rank as Syracuse’s top three in career points.That’s a testament to Ventiquattro, who brought lacrosse to the mill town with a population around 4,000. He coached baseball for four or five years before receiving Carthage’s first varsity lacrosse head coach offer. Ventiquattro initially said he’d give it a shot for five years. Nearly 30 years later, he had a career record of 436-418 entering this season. He motivated his players by speaking about their blue-collar roots. Other teams in the area had history on their side but that didn’t mean Carthage couldn’t compete.“For such a small program being where they are,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said, “to be able to consistently put out that many stand-outs is pretty incredible.”In the Carthage Middle School gym, there’s a poster of Casey Powell wearing No. 22 for Team USA. There’s one of his younger brother Ryan, which was produced by Nike. The Carrier Dome is an 84-mile drive away. Current players know what they have to live up to.In the Comets’ early years, players tried to emulate the Orange’s style. They’d get to the Dome a few times each year and watch transcendent talents like Paul and Gary Gait terrorize opponents in transition with quick strikes. Ventiquattro taped and studied SU games. He’d have his players practice behind-the-back passes since they’d do it in the games anyway. Carthage’s goal was to score 20 times each contest.Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerBack home, the Powells and the Coffmans (Josh’s brother Jason was an All-American at Division-III Salisbury and is now an assistant for Ventiquattro) grew up across the street from each other. They’d drag the one net they had wherever they were playing. To compensate for the lack of a goalie, they made up rules. Goals only counted if two fakes were used, the shoe was thrown behind-the-back or a cone was knocked over.“If you didn’t play sports, you were bored,” Jason Coffman said. “There wasn’t a whole lot to do.”On game days, Ventiquattro made sure that his pregame speeches were anything but dull. One of the highest compliments he’s received is when another Carthage coach told him he treats every game like the Super Bowl. “You’re stinkin’ right I do,” Ventiquattro replied.He crafts his speeches as stories meant to inspire his team. Every three or four years, Ventiquattro tells one about two rats trying to escape a butter churn. One is a pampered rat, meant to represent Carthage’s opponent. The other is a blue-collar rat, meant to represent his hard working team. While both rats nearly drown in the buttermilk, the blue-collar rat is used to fighting to survive. That’s why it climbs out of the butter churn while the pampered rat doesn’t make it.“We’d walk out of the locker room and tap each other and say, ‘That got me going.’ Other times, we’d say ‘That was crazy. That didn’t make any sense,’” Jason Coffman said. “… It made us laugh but we knew where he was going with it. He really played on our knowledge that we were blue collar.”Tom Grimm and Nick Piroli, two former Carthage and Syracuse players who graduated last year, remember similar animation from Ventiquattro. When they were ball boys for the varsity team in elementary school, the head coach once dressed up in glasses and a button-down shirt. As his speech pinnacle, his upper lip began sweating, foam formed in the corner of his mouth and he was spitting while yelling.Ventiquattro ripped off his glasses and tore apart his buttoned up shirt. Underneath was a T-shirt with a Superman logo.“That’s just Coach V,” Grimm said.During a practice in early April, Ventiquattro paced around the field and yelled with his usual unwavering vigor. That’s what pushed the Powells and the Coffmans and still pushes the current batch of players.“Why are you walking? We don’t walk around here!” Ventiquattro screamed.“If you turn it over, we’re gonna get beat and beat badly. We’re gonna get smushed!”“I’m tired of begging you,” he said as players lined up for sprints. “You want to be good or not? You decide.”Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerVentiquattro brings that same energy to coaching every day. Even when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago, his coaching style never changed. He retired from teaching physical education and coaching football, but his passion for lacrosse hasn’t tapered.Before every home game, the song “Don’t Go Messin’ With a Country Boy” by Hillbilly Jim blasts through speakers as Carthage walks onto the field. When West Genesee (New York) High School visited the Comets a several years ago, former Wildcat and Syracuse star Dylan Donahue said he’d look at his teammates like, “What the heck is going on?” he told Grimm.The Comets’ field is across the street from a chicken farm. When opponents get off their bus before games, they immediately know they’re about to face the “hicks from the sticks,” as Ventiquattro coined his players. As traditions were forged, Ventiquattro borrowed one from West Genesee head coach Mike Messere. Every Carthage player wears high white socks as part of the uniform. Ventiquattro said he wanted his teams to play with the flair of SU and the discipline of West Genesee. Now it’s a tradition the Comets have embraced as their own, like the song they walk out to or the speeches they listen to.At Syracuse, every freshman is asked to name their favorite alumnus at the start of their college careers. During his freshman year, Grimm mentioned Josh Coffman — the reason Grimm wore No. 32.“Coach V really wants us to know if you play for Carthage, it’s important for you to know the history of our program and where you come from,” Grimm said. “Stay true to your roots. Country folk. Work hard to get what they get.”Over the years, Carthage’s success has dipped. It hasn’t won a Section III Class B championship since 2002. The town transitioned from mostly a mill town to a military one as industry shrank and nearby Fort Drum expanded in the 1990s. Instead of locals who spent their entire childhoods growing up there, people come and go frequently.“(Lacrosse) used to be a ticket out,” Ventiquattro said. “It was the only way out at one time.”Carthage’s lacrosse program remains one of the town’s most prized possessions. When you say Carthage lacrosse, people know what you’re talking about.“To see where we’ve come in the past 30 years is unreal,” Jason Coffman said.Now, no lacrosse player has to leave Carthage with the same fear Ventiquattro once had.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Kirk Ventiquattro’s career record was misstated. Ventiquattro had a career record of 436-418 entering this season. The Daily Orange regrets this error. 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In the wake of last week’s news that Faugheen would also miss the rest of the season, Mullins has confirmed that fellow Champion Hurdle contender “Arctic Fire” will also miss Cheltenham. The seven-year-old will have to undergo surgery to remove a small bone fragment. The gelding finished runner-up behind Faugheen last year and was the favourite to take the title in the absence of his stablemate Faugheen.