The Adelaide Crows traumatic training camp

2020-08-05 08:06:59 GMT

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The Adelaide Crows are another example of how traumatic training camps can have long term effects

Things are far from fine with the Adelaide Crows as the team sits bottom of the AFL table having suffered five straight losses since the season started. This comes on the back of a disappointing 2019 campaign when the team finished 11th, but it has to be said that was an improvement on their 2018 season when they came in at 12th position.

The legion of Crows fans won't see it that way though and will recoil at the idea that an 11th place finish is anywhere near good enough or something to celebrate. That's because the Crows were grand finalists in 2017 before eventually losing to Richmond in a rather one-sided affair on the day. But the point stands: the team was flying high before the start of the 2018 season.

Now, they find themselves as the outright favourites to suffer the most losses in the regular season having been priced at 1/4 in Aussie Rules betting to claim that unwanted tag. Talk about a fall from grace. How have they ended up slipping to the degree that they have?

Well, it all changed when a pre-season training camp before the commencement of the 2018 season broke the spirit of the team. Fresh details of this now infamous camp have continued to emerge over the years and it's now abundantly clear to see why this football club is in free fall.

Trust was lost over the few days that the team spent in the woods carrying out drills. It traumatized them rather than building them up. Such was the level of betrayal that some players felt at being subjected to this unwanted discomfort that a host of first-team stars made for the exit door in the season that would follow. The departures didn't stop with playing personnel - they also extended to management, with heads rolling at the top once the details of this pre-season camp became public knowledge.

Now, when you take a step back to look at the Crows' trajectory over the last 24 months and take into account how their form has seemingly fallen off a cliff, you can safely identify the 2018 training camp as the reason why. It was an ill-advised move by the management of the Adelaide Crows at the time and they should have known better as history has examples of how detrimental an overly aggressive training exercise can be.

If we were to switch codes for a second and have a look back at the goings-on of the 2003 training camp that the coaches of the South African rugby team organised, we'll see another perturbing example of how management can push a team too far. It was just before the Springboks jetted off down under for the 2003 World Cup that head coach Rudolph Straeuli organized what was dubbed "Kamp Staaldraad". In Afrikaans that means "camp barbed wire". You probably get the idea.

The camp was anything but a success and the Springboks arrived in Australia with a fractured team spirit which would result in them limping out in the quarterfinal stage after a disappointing loss to New Zealand. Similar to the Crows, once the findings of the camp appeared in the public domain and the regime of the Springboks had been exposed, heads rolled at boardroom level.

The one upshot was that given the scale of the deep clean that South Africa did to their rugby team to cleanse them of this stain on the proud Springbok badge, they were able to build from the ground up and would go onto win the World Cup four years later.

This should come as encouraging news for the Crows as there is a way forward for Adelaide but they have to root out the remaining weeds in the dressing room and boardroom before they can begin to challenge for the top honours again in AFL.


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