Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


A million press ups for that by David Clarke
August 28, 2008, 8:11 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

1,2,3,4…no, proper ones

A familar call on the rugby training ground. A misdeamour of minor proportions, perhaps a dropped ball or a missed tackle. The result, press ups (or round the posts and back).

Don’t think for one moment I am going to say that mistakes should not be highlighted, pointed out or even commented on harshly. It is how they are then dealt with which causes an interesting debate.

“Punishment” is not a good word to use – I found this out very early on in the Rugby Coach Newsletter issues when the RFU quickly slapped my wrists for using the word (and the “punishment” mentioned).

In which case, you need a way to ENCOURAGE the players not to make the same mistake twice.

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Concentrating on rugby skills accuracy by David Clarke

With the UK season about to start in earnest in a few weeks, rugby training time is focused on the first game.

In my sessions I am particularly interested in the accuracy of the skills. Passes in the right place, the rugby tackles being made with the correct shoulder and foot combination, and rucks being cleared at the best height.

A small lapse and it could cost you points.

And here is the evidence!



Rugby Drills: Fast Hands by David Clarke

This week I was asked to come up with some fast hands rugby drills. As some of you know, I am not a great fan of the term “drill”, but it matters little in the end because it is what the players learn in training that counts.

Why fast hands

“Fast hands” means quick transference of the ball from one player to the next to the next. In other words, at least one quick pass in a series of two or more passes. Relating this to the game, it is unlikely that we need “fast hands” for more than three passes.

Game related reasons

“Fast hands” are meaningless unless there is a good reason to pass the ball in the first place. The reason in this case is that the receiver and giver is under pressure in front of him and there is someone better placed to take the ball forward. Two sets of “fast hands” means that two players are under this pressure and so on.

Ultimately, my drill/exercise needs to get to the high pressure stage.

Constructing a drill

In a quick audit of the stuff I have published I find I have over 300 “sessions” to choose from (not all handling of course), plus another 40 odd in the pipeline till Christmas. But why not use a fresh idea.

Here are the three things I think about when constructing a rugby drill

1. Paint a picture of the game and can I isolate the technique?

2. What is the fewest number of players I need?

3. Where can I add value?

Point 3 is the crucial one. For fast hands, my answer was “its in the catching”.

Look out for my “drills” coming up soon.



Watch this video by David Clarke
August 22, 2008, 9:38 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: ,

I was writing a post about fast hand drills, and then I came across this video from Ryan Lee. (ryanlee.com)

Watch it and see if it has the same effect on you as it had on me…



Olympics and Rugby by David Clarke
August 20, 2008, 8:44 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell | Tags: , ,

It is hard not to be inspired by Olympic endeavour. It is also hard to justify the Olympics without rugby.

There are plenty of sporting lessons to be learnt from the Games, biomechanically, mentally and as a spectacle.

Here are some sites to visit to get your juices going. And here’s Olympic Sevens, men’s and women’s in 2012.

IRB petition



Does your touch rugby look like this? by David Clarke

Ok, it is the All Blacks, but…

1. Look at the rules: two handed touch, ball carrier and one team mate to the ground, plus the toucher and one of his team mates too. This creates space and encourages support around the fringes.

2. Look at the work rate: at the end these boys are tired.

3. Look at the rugby basics: two hands on the ball, passing before contact, changing angles, arriving from depth.

Touch rugby is a great game for many reasons, but needs careful control to gain the full benefits.

Here are links to some more ideas on touch rugby from the Better Rugby Coaching site:

  • Touch Rugby to Make Your Players Shine – This simple game concentrates on running, support play and passing ability, ensuring a great skills and fitness workout for the entire team.
  • Touch Rugby – Friend or Foe? – Playing touch rugby can pay dividends when it comes to full contact matches.
  • Using Touch Rugby to Improve the Basics – How touch rugby can allow your players to experiment and extend their core skills.
  • Touch Rugby to Make Your Players Shine – Simple games with big skills and fitness gains.


  • Osprey Coaching Conference Materials by David Clarke

    Yesterday I spoke at the Osprey Coaching Conference at Llandarcy Academy Sport just outside Swansea, Wales. It was an excellent day with presentations from some of the current Osprey players (front row), the region’s skills coach, a top Welsh referee on ELVs and finally a brilliant talk by Sean Holley, the new supremo at the Ospreys.

    My 40 minute slot was on coach development. It took the focus away from thinking about coaching players and onto developing the person in front of me.

    I discussed the continuing desire to improve. One way to improve is to improve our listening skills. In the main this means overcoming barriers to listening.

    Another way to improve is to listen to the thoughts of others BEFORE we coach a session. It is a method called “feed forward.”

    Finally I introduced a philosophy of a US baseball coach, Gagliardi. He talks about the power of “No”.

    The presentation and some notes can be downloaded by following this link to the Rugby Coaching Forum.