Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Coaching cut backs by David Clarke
December 19, 2008, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby News | Tags: ,

With the news that the New Zealand rugby board is cutting back its spending across a number of areas, should the community game be worried about coaching cut backs?

As a percentage of total spending, community coaching is not a large chunk of the most unions budgets. In which case it might be hoped that other cuts might be made.

Recently the National Governing Bodies have been investing resources into coaching the coaches. Will this momentum be halted? Await some belt tightening measures in the new year.

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Rugby art by David Clarke
December 18, 2008, 11:35 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell | Tags: , ,

Romania rugby

This is a picture by an American artist called Paine Proffitt. It was part of a set of pictures produced for the World Cup and was on display in the Twickenham rugby museum.

This particular piece represents Romania, a team who at one stage stood on the cusp of entering the Five Nations tournament in the 1980’s. Unfortunately many of their players were lost in the awful internal conflicts that then occurred. They did make it back into the World Cup for 2007, but they are not the force they promised to be.



Should I let my players over indulge this Christmas? by David Clarke
December 17, 2008, 2:04 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , , ,

A Christmas feast

Oooh, the temptations of Christmas…just putting in this picture made my mouth water. Luckily I am only the coach, I don’t need to watch my waistline in quite the same way as my players.

This is a difficult time of year for senior coaches though. Fitness regimes become clouded by parties and feasts. Alcohol is just one of the enemies. Piles of food worse.

Players will ignore draconian rules on how much of food they are allowed to eat. When their mother/partner/boyfriend/mother-in-law has lovingly slaved over a hot stove then it is hard to say no to plate full of food.   

Many years ago I used to play on Boxing Day and New Years Day in front of paying customers! It was a nightmare. Did I get stuck in or not? One New Years Eve I spent all night on a river boat surrounded by goodies and in the end drank three shandies. The next day I played in a game where we beat a 1st division team for the first time in years (and I scored a try, and it was on the local TV!)

But I have learned not to use stories of “in my day” to tell players what to do. Let them discuss the options, make their own resolutions and then sit back and see.



A little known way of powering up your front row by David Clarke
December 16, 2008, 9:58 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Skills | Tags: , , , , ,

Most props will bind tight to the hooker. It makes sense. The opposition will want to isolate the hooker so he cannot strike for the ball as effectively. The opposition tight head (or right side prop) with his hooker will pressurise your hooker.

To counter this, the props will grab a great lump of their hooker’s shirt or shorts, normally under the arm and pull in the hooker.

But this is counter productive.

Many of your props will do weights. Ask them whether is easy to lift dumb bells with wide arms or with the elbows bent, thus pulling the dumb bell into the shoulders. The bent elbow method is easier, because the prop’s arms are stronger through this range.

In which case, the prop should use the “short arm” method, with a bent elbow, probably gripping the number on the hooker’s back.

Your props will be squarer and your push and protection stronger.

I mention this method because Andrew Millward, one of the main contributors to Secrets of the Front Row and now academy manager at the Ospreys reminded me about it last night.

It ties in nicely with Doug McClymont’s explanation of the Total Impact Method of scrummaging he developed with All Black scrum guru, Mike Cron, in this month’s Rugby Coach Newsletter.



Daniel in the Tiger’s den by David Clarke
December 15, 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: , , , ,

Dan Carter against the Tigers

Dan Carter’s arrival at Perpignan had so many biblical analogies you could have been written a whole new testament book. There is already a book of Daniel, though in the Carter version he arrives at the palace as a king already.

His first game was not miraculous, but it was pretty solid. He kicked, passed, tackled and managed the game well, with few mistakes. And remember that the Leicester Tigers are never tame and never respect any opponent, legend or otherwise.

From a coaching point of view, the game plan for Carter was simple. Play simple rugby. Do the basics well. Don’t force the game.  The constant coverage from every angle showed how well Carter performs the core skills. He passed accurately off both hands. He tackled well, and in one case showed how important it is to get your leading foot close to the ball carrier when making a tackle.

Good luck to him. The other French teams will be on his case now and he will be interesting how he survives in their maelstrom of rugby.



Rugby coaching top tips: #3 by David Clarke
December 12, 2008, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, top tips | Tags: ,

At half time, as you are walking towards the meeting point (on the pitch or inside), ask at least two players how they feel the game is going.

Their response will give you a flavour to gear your team talk and advice. Answer their needs and you may well address many more in the team.

Comments like “The backs keep dropping the ball” or “The forwards won’t give us the ball” give an interesting message!



Rugby coaching caption competition by David Clarke
December 11, 2008, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell | Tags: , , , ,

Add a caption to this picture of Martin Johnson and Graham Henry in their recent meeting when the All Blacks beat England in November.

Johnson and Henry