Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Rugby coaching and judo – five questions that need answering by David Clarke

Craig McKay, a Rugby Coach subscriber from Grimsby, UK, says that certain professionals in rugby are telling us that judo is a necessary part of development training for young players, even Premiership players. He wants to know why.


Something is bothering me.


My son trains with the local professional club’s development squad and so I get hear about some of the current thinking in rugby. And one of those ideas which keeps coming up is using judo training to enhance the ability of players in contact.


I want to know more. It sounds like a good thought, but I need some more convincing.


Here are my five must know questions…

1. What judo techniques are of value in rugby?

2. Which, if any judo moves, are legal? Take for instance “tai toshi”, since some referees say it is not.

3. Are judo clubs receptive to rugby players turning up asking for help with their rugby?

4. Do the English Premiership (or any world premier league) tackle statistics tell us anything yet about the benefits of judo?

5. Is Shaun Edwards, the much feted Wales defence coach, a judo fan?






9 Comments so far
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Craig, no worries here and nothing new. I was lucky enought to learn some judo for only 2 years at age 13-15 after I had been playing rugby from 9.

Judo teaches you balance, falling, advantage, recognizing the shift in advantage in a instant, and inventiveness. I found myself using an opponents weight against themselves, creating advantageous body movement (leverage) until I finished playing 30 years later.

I was always on the smaller side of players and I would hope that anybody who knows me would say I played within the laws.

Judo is a good extra-rugby-curricular training.

Comment by gilesb53

I am a judo coach and teach juniors. We are adjoining a boys High School and the rugby came to see me with regard to having heir 13 and 14 year old boys (when rugby becomes part of school activities here in Zimbabwe)do some judo training. The coach had noted that the boys who had done judo were unafraid of body contact and falling.

Comment by Patricia Warren

All Blacks use Judo for contact conditioning, helping soft tissues condition against impact/contact/falls. England use Judo training to enable the tackler to place the tackled player on the ground on his back leaving the ball available to the opposition. They also use it to train the tackled player to maintain his balence for one or two extra seconds to enable better passing out of the tackle. The aim of Judo and Rugby is to stay on your feet. Judo is not a ‘quick fix’ for rugby players, it’s an effective cross training option.

Comment by steve davidson

what were the specific techniques used on the field

Comment by mark

Hello my boys play rugby for HWRUFC and I coach judo at High Wycombe Judo Centre we have started to take whole age groups for judo/Rugby training so far its been great cant wait for the new season to start its something both clubs want to do much more of great for both sports we can take 40 kids a time good with the school break coming up

Comment by nigel

I am Danny da Costa, based in Torquay.In February 2003, I introduced Judo/Aikido and Shinjido principles to Plymouth Albion. We worked out several useful skills for use on the field. Just as important we worked on using power more efficiently.

Comment by Danny

Pet favourite of mine this. As a youth judo player I found the skills I learnt in judo invaluable in rugby – I was a back – In my adult years I took up freestyle wrestling as well and found this an even better form of cross training! However can we have some comments from refs re. throwing techniques for putting a player down. I have witnessed refereeing inconsistency when players have used (including me) techniques that look more like judo/wresting throws than a good old bit of heaving over!

Comment by Gary Shanahan

Playing Judo prior to taking up Rugby certainly gives players a sense of how to fall, the intimacy of physical confrontation, and enhances their proprioceptive awareness.
There is benefit in tackling, allowing the ball carrier to be turned on to his back in the tackle and the tackler to remain on his feet and “jackal” the ball away. It teaches good body position in mauls and taking the ball in to contact. Rucking needs the player to drive forward and clear-out or park, the natural technique for a judo player in this situation is to encourage the forward movement of the opposition which results in the ball being lost, and the illegal move of pulling the opposition through. It’s very important therefore that a referee or coach are present to confirm the appropriateness of the techniques.

Comment by Rohan Harlow

I am a second Dan Black Belt on Judo and have played rugby for many years as well as now being a rugby coach.
I can honestly say that I think Judo is a great plus for rugby players both just starting to learn the game through to the most experienced levels.
Judo teaches balance, re-direction of force and control. It also has a benifit of being a great cardio workout helping to maintain a fitness level in the off season.
As far as leagal throws I know of only one leagal throw that every Rugby player is shown when they first start Morote Gari which is the same as a face on rugby tackle. You could use a couple of other throws with a tweak,such as Huchiki Taoshi but I would not teach them to a Rugby player only to a Judo player.

Comment by Bob Dakers

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