Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Winning the tackle contest by being “slow” by David Clarke

Here are some excellent videos from the Put me in Coach! blog, written by Lisa Rosen.

Lisa says this:
Yesterday my club, Philly Women, had the pleasure of hosting Eamonn Hogan’s second clinic. This session was designed primarily for adult players and their coaches, but we had several more experienced players from Princeton, UPenn, and Drexel, as well as men and women from Skuylkill River Exiles (our Philadelphia rugger brothers), Philly Women, and Brandywine Riot.
The weather was much better and we advanced and a pretty quick pace, finishing with a full contact series of games. Unfortunately I was only about to video document about half of the session, as the lights on the field just weren’t enough when the sun went down, but I hope you’ll like what you see and can use some of it in your coaching.

Hogan was known as the Master of Disaster at the contact area. He was formerly at the Leicester Tigers and is now part of the coaching team in the US.

Lisa’s blog is a great source of information for coaches, in part because it shows how much organisation is required to put a team on the pitch. I have featured an article from Lisa in International Rugby Technical Journal (formerly known as Rugby Coach newsletter), where she argued the case against “round the corner” drills.

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What showing off can bring to the game by David Clarke

You can’t coach this, but can provide the environment for players to try it out…

It comes from rugby league. It is a kick and chase pattern into the in-goal area. The player can only be successful if the other players have a clue what he might do. As a rugby coach, you can devise games where anything goes. The players will enjoy it and when they are showing off, they might just learn a match turning skill.

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Scrummaging square and balanced by David Clarke

Real power and precision in this video.

Read about the biomechanics of these scrums from the works of Doug McClymont who worked with New Zealand scrum guru in the International Rugby Technical Journal.

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Why showing off promotes skills by David Clarke

I was up in Pontypridd last night to interview Paul John, the World Cup winning sevens coach for Wales.

As I was waiting, I sat in the stands watching the Ponty 1st XV gathering. First one, then a couple and eventually ten players wandered onto the pitch. They were relaxed and smiling.

Quickly they started playing a game of touch rugby . It was played at just above walking pace. If you shut your eyes, you would hear laughing, jokes and name calling.

Rules? Easy. One hand touch, ball on the ground turnover, touch and push ball between the legs.

As more players joined in, one thing struck me. They loved showing off. Huge spin passes off both hands, one handed passes, basketball passes, through the legs, behind the back. When something good worked, it was met with cheerful derision and smiles. There was no competitiveness in the game itself, just the joy and celebration of human movement.

To show off, you need to practice. It takes lots of skill to throw a 25 metre spin pass. You might not even use it in a real game. However to “look good” in the game where your mates are “showing off” means you practise. Practise at times which are not official practice times. Practise in private. And then show off in public. Good practice!

And here are some “boys” showing off.

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Templates for good rugby coaching by David Clarke


What you see is what you correct.

You need to know what is right, and right for the players you are coaching. Expectations must be managed.

This picture, taken from one of my Under 9 training sessions, shows a great template. I would like to think it happens all the time, but it doesn’t!

What is good:
1. The passer is balanced, hips towards the intended target with both hands on the ball.
2. The passer is looking at the target.
3. The receiver is making a target with his hands.
4. There is a support player coming at pace, and calling for the ball.
5. One of the defenders is moving forward to close down space.

What could be improved:
1. The receiver could be generating more pace onto the ball.
2. The support player could be deeper.
3. The inside tackler could be closing down the space.

We could take more pictures and video at training. There are plenty of other pictures from this session which show why Under 9s tackle poorly. Being used to tag, they don’t engage with the shoulder. I need to help my players work on that.

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The Lions do England a favour by David Clarke

The Lions badge
In all the excitement of the Lions announcements, plus all the usual “emotional” guff about bonding and self discovery, the England international management must be pretty pleased.

To go on a Lions tour is very special. For the individual. It will be an amazing experience, but it is unlikely to make them much better players.

It is not good news from a rest and recuperiation point of view. These players are coming off a long season to face one of the strongest club nations in the world, where little quarter is offered. It is not what the doctor, and the countless physios, ordered.

Looking at the England group going away, three are unlikely to play a part in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Worsley, Vickery and Shaw (so old I played with him at Bristol!) are in their twilight years. Of the others, England will be looking to wrap Flutey in cotton wool, and perhaps Sheridan if they can find enough.

The England players not going, can rest, go on the national tour and start the new season a month ahead of their contemporaries. They will be even more determined to fight their corners when Six Nations time comes around again.

The Irish contingent is interesting because of the average age gap between forwards and backs. Many of the Irish forwards are at the back end of their careers along with Brian O’Driscoll. This could stretch these fine players physically.

Wales should be most worried. They underperformed in the Six Nations. Their coaching staff and players are away from the rebuilding process for at least three months. Several of their crown jewels are not 100% fit now, so need to time to recover. Make a diary note to see how many of the thirteen players are fit for the autumn internationals.

So it is the best of times and the worst of times, depending on whose interests you have at heart. The incoming Scottish coach might be secretly the best pleased!

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Don’t stop at the ruck by David Clarke

Watch this video and look at how both teams struggle to win either clean ruck ball or any ruck ball because players stop at the ruck.

Whatever we say about sealing and bridging, this sends a clear message that it rarely produces “winning” ruck ball.

Rugby coaches should be coaching rucking skills that drive out threats, produce clean ball for the next player and protect the eventual clearing passer.

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