Monday, August 1, 2016

Q&A With Women Eagles Interim Head Coach Peter Baggetta

The Women Eagles recently completed the Super Series coming up 0-3 against France, England, and Canada, all solid competition. To get the latest on the team we sat down with interim head coach Peter Baggetta.

TIAR: Can you explain for those who don't know your role with the team for the second half of 2016 and how it came about?

Peter Bagetta: My role for the second half of 2016 is as the interim head coach. This is due to Pete Steinberg not able to travel to France in November due to the expected birth of his first child. I have been in the role as Associate Head Coach for the last 15 months so the interim role is not that much more in terms of the specifics of what I will be doing.

TIAR: The Eagles finished the Super Series without a win? Was the tournament about wins and losses or was it about identifying players for the World Cup next year?

PB: Anytime you play a test match it needs to be about performance so of course we are disappointed with our performance. At the same time because we don't play enough test matches we also have to use the matches to identify players for the World Cup and increase the player pool. What would be ideal would be to play both more tests as well as development matches but of course that would require additional resources.
Take the jump to read more.
TIAR: You blended some new players into the team this year. Which young players stood out to you?

PB: I don't want to single out which young players stood out but we are pleased with the continued development of some of the younger players we took with us to Canada last year. You have to be in the test environment to start to understand what it takes to perform at that level. I think that what is most pleasing is that the pathway is starting to work - we now are 3 teams but one program which means that we have more alignment between the senior team and the age-grade teams. This should make the move up a bit more easier for players.
TIAR: What would you like to see from your team in terms of improvement going forward?

PB: In terms of improvement there are a several key areas we would like to see:
- Improved coaching - as coaches we need to get better at helping to prepare the players. Right now we spend lots of time on organization and structure but we need to move to helping players identify cues to make decisions during the game. The higher level you play, the simpler things need to be and the focus should be on where the cues come from. Cue recognition is the key to decision making and we have to do a better job to coach it at trainings.
- Improved skill execution under pressure - we have to get better at doing the basics really well all the time. Right now we are inconsistent with our skill execution.
- Learn how to win - we spend a lot of time focusing on development but we (both coaches and players) need to learn how to win. Winning does not happen by accident - it is a by product of becoming masters of the processes and preparation and also knowing what it takes to perform in the critical moments of the game. We have to learn to become ruthless in those moments and also ruthless and demanding in our expectations of each other in those moments.
TIAR: What do you think was your biggest strength at the Super Series?

PB:  Our biggest strength?? Not sure if we had a biggest strength as we were inconsistent in our play at all aspects of the game. We showed flashes of good play but not enough especially in those critical moments.
TIAR: Looking ahead to November, who will you be playing and are you planning on bringing what is close to your World Cup team?

PB: We are playing two matches against France in November. If it can work out, we may get an additional match against Wales. We need as many matches as possible. If you look at the other top teams they are starting to pull away in terms of the matches they get to play compared to us. We want to try to get as close to our World Cup pool, not the actual squad but the pool of players.

TIAR: Women's college rugby has improved a lot in the last few years. Are you seeing that trickle over on to the national team?

PB:  Yes, we are seeing the trickle effect of the improvement of women's college rugby. More and more players are coming into the national team environment understanding the high performance aspects such as strength and conditioning, nutrition, video review, recovery, etc. Where we need to see further improvement is in the skill execution and game understanding. We want to see more players developing their all around skills instead of relying just on their athleticism. We want to see more players do the things that are hard for them in training instead of doing what is easy for them.

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