Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

A Tough Rugby Week Ahead for Some by David Clarke


It is going to be tough time for 40 boys in the Osprey region (Wales) next week. The Under 16 and Under 18 squads need to trim their numbers by 20 each after trials over this weekend and the start of next week.


It is not only the boys who suffer, but also their parents who have invested time and travel expenses ferrying their sons to and from the training sessions.


For both squads it has been an intense four weeks, with three evenings a week of fitness and skills (some of these from me!). The players are fitter, stronger and more attuned to a higher level of rugby. But for some it will feel that the dream ends now.


Actually the dream won’t end now. And that is the most important point we can give our players. Not making the grade at under 16 does not mean a player can never progress. The same is true at under 18, but less so.


Relaying this key message to a fifteen year old boy who has never been dropped before is a difficult task. There is no easy way to tell them, but are plenty of wrong ways. At the Ospreys, the academy management team acknowledge this and are consistently working to find better ways to communicate.


Here are four ways you can deal with a disappointed player.


1. Show empathy for their situation


They will be disappointed, sad and perhaps angry. You should know this, make sure they know you know and help them control these feelings.


2. Speak to them plainly


Use easy to digest language and say it more than once. The listening skills will be heightened when you talk to them, but they will not necessarily be able to understand what is being said because of their disappointment.


In plain language the situation is often this: there are, at present, players who are performing better than you. You should accept this is our opinion, based on our experience. You have to choose whether you have the desire to train and play to get into the team at a later date, based on our advice or think that you have gone far enough. Remember that the players ahead of you at the moment may lose form, get injured or decide to step down themselves. Also, they know they have to improve themselves because there are players like yourself banging on the door to get selected. The selection door is never shut.


3. Offer the way forward but not a promise


Players will need to know how they can improve their game. Advice should be brief and specific. Every player can be become fitter, but can you set some targets? However don’t say that they will be selected if they can achieve those targets. Remember the plain language message is that the other players will be working hard as well.


4. I look forward to seeing you again


Outline a time when you will be reconsidering their case. It may be during the season in club games, or at the trials at the end of the next season. Show them the selection door is open by letting them know how to push it open and when.     


1 Comment so far
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This goes back again to improving the levels below the elite levels so that he catch up is not too great.
District standards need to be improved and to the same degree club rugby has to improve.

I think there should be more financial reward for developing coaches as well as having a full range of sides.

Perhaps an accreditation so that a coach has to undertake a number of self development courses within a season, this could then lead on to a pre requirement for progressing to level 2,3 and beyond?

Comment by Ian

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