As members and players of Hackney RFC we needn't be avid readers of early Heidigger nor keen horologists to know that in rugby, time is important. This is so obvious that I've questioned whether it needs to be written about on the blog, but the more I've given thought to time in a rugby context, the more it figures as one of the totalising concepts in the game.

It can come in many guises – in technical aspects we see it in the timing between line out jumper and thrower, the engagement at the scrum (with new calls in mind), holding a run off 9 or 10, or the shout of 'time' to a full back with ample space. In rest and recovery on the pitch, making sure we rest once we're in a position to defend rather than panting on out back sides, and off the pitch, giving that hamstring pull more time to recover rather than exacerbating an existing injury.

What, after a discussion with some players post-match last Saturday, has struck me as most unconsidered is how we think about the eighty-minute game as a unit of time. I love the new game plan, but considerations for a change in approach depending on periods of the game were conspicuous for their absence. We should be just as concerned about when in the game we are, as where on the pitch we are.  In some ways we do this. Most captains I've ever played under will wheel-out the cliché of the 'big first ten minutes', and the importance of showing an opposition you mean business. I know Ben Scanlan and Ben Chamberlain are keen on emphasising the first ten minutes of the second half, to make sure the team maintains its tempo.

I think we can go further. We need to be more aware of the ten minute sin-bin which has been far more common this year, I spent the last part of Saturday moping under the posts. Aware by both putting our foot down in attack when they lose a player and having a pre-organised system for who goes where when we do. But really what I'm concerned with is how an approach, an entire game plan, can be radically changed depending on when in the game we are playing. As one example – but there are lots more especially in the line out - off-loading has become a far bigger feature of the game in the last few years, and an extremely effective part of offensive play. But I would suggest the effectiveness of an off-loading game is dependent on when in a game you play it. The first half should be about running hard at men, not off-loading, and not moving the ball too often outside of the 12 channel. Second half, with tired legs defensively, who've taken a real battering from confrontational runners, the plan changes to an off-loading game, and a more expansive offence. Not only are you working with tired opposition, but with a defence which is expecting a second half of the same style of play.  

Now I'm aware of the problems with this approach – it goes against heads up rugby, against playing what you see, things which I value and think should be integral to our play. I don't propose this approach to rigidly govern how we play the game, but more as something that we should ponder as players and coaches.  We often talk of zones on the pitch – particularly the red zone inside the 22s - but I think, in the line from Unchained Melody, 'Time can do so much' and knowing how to use this to our advantage should be integrated into our approach.