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Practise scoring tries by David Clarke

good technique

When Jacque Fourie went over for the South African’s third try, he exhibited good technique:
1. He drives low for the line.
2. He holds the ball in the outside arm.
3. He keeps his neck in a neutral position, with his core tensed. His legs are straight and toes pointed.

I don’t know his training routines, but I doubt that he has been coaching explicitly to do all these things to score a try. He has probably worked some of them out for himself, like the outside arm for the ball (though it is right arm, so that might be just luck).

How often has he practised diving for the line? Our kickers spend ours in front of the posts practising. By that token our try scorers should be doing at least a small percentage of this work.

Here is a Smart Session for scoring tries, which might help.
Better Rugby Coaching

Three players, three lapses, three tries by David Clarke

When the Lions look back on the second test against the Springboks, they will rue three crucial moments in defence.

1. Luke Fitzgerald: He was covering the 12 channel from the lineout and failed to step inside as Paul Wallace stepped across. Wallace was in the 10 channel, stepped into take Fourie du Preez peeling around the edge of the lineout. A gap opened up and JP Pieterson raced through. It was a defensive system failure because they needed to communicate and move across together.

2. Brian O’Driscoll: O’Driscoll is a very good defender, but also tends to race up. And so he did for the second try from South Africa, creating a dog leg. A defensive system error, and with Bryan Habana racing onto the ball, fatal.

3. Ronan O’Gara: When Jacque Fourie barrelled towards the line, the admittedly dazed O’Gara, crumpled under the tackle. An individual defensive error.

As one of my coaching colleagues said to me, that was school 1st XV stuff. Tough analysis, but unfortunately at the top level, it is the difference between winning and losing a test series.

Better Rugby Coaching

You must have fun playing rugby by David Clarke
June 26, 2009, 8:36 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , , ,

On a long tour, certain characters make a real difference.

Here is a really interesting interview that Bryn Palmer, the BBC sports blogger had with Paul Stridgeon, a key conditioner with current Lions.

‘Bobby’ keeps the Lions in mint condition
Bryn Palmer | 14:44 PM, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Cape Town, Wednesday

The Lions have embraced most of the challenges they have encountered on this South Africa tour head on.

The on-field ones might have escalated this week, but away from the rugby there remains one that no squad member fancies, despite encouragement from the coaches.

Forwards coach Warren Gatland and defence guru Shaun Edwards have both offered tempting bets to any player who can ‘bring down’ the squad’s physical conditioner Paul Stridgeon, a former freestyle wrestler who competed for England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

At 5ft 8in and 76kg (12 stone) he is a good deal smaller and lighter than all of them and dwarfed by the “big beasts” in the party, but is proud of the fact that no rugby player has ever got the better of him.

This may have something to what happened to the Lions’ assistant forwards coach Graham Rowntree, the former Leicester and England prop, when Stridgeon started working for the Rugby Football Union last summer.

“Graham took on the challenge when I first started with England, and I killed him in front of all the lads,” he recalled. “They enjoyed that.”

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Good tackle technique video by David Clarke
June 24, 2009, 9:17 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, rugby defence | Tags: , ,

Here is an excellent video clip from Pat Lam from the New Zealand coaching toolbox. He explains the key technqiues for the rugby tackle.

Better Rugby Coaching

Why the Lions selection is a reflection on the referee by David Clarke

There are two issues in world rugby that most vex coaches at the top level: the breakdown and the scrum.

Each referee interprets the breakdown differently. Many commentators say that referees “guess” the infringements at the scrum engagement.

Therefore you need to pick a team that will win the game given what the referee will do, and not necessarily what the opposition will do.

The Lions have picked a front row that will scrummage, but not destroy the South Africans. What is the point of destroying a scrum if the referee ignores this and resets the scrum every time.

They have picked a pack that will get to the breakdown quickly, so there is less chance of the ball being stolen.

So though the likes of Gethin Jenkins (loosehead) and Wallace (openside) have been on great form, their selection meets those criteria perfectly.

Better Rugby Coaching

Coaches in action by David Clarke
June 18, 2009, 8:13 am
Filed under: coaches in action pictures, Dan Cottrell

coach in action

Desperate to play, huddled into the coach, minds in lots of places.

From a club in South Africa playing mini rugby.

Better Rugby Coaching

How punt the ball better US style by David Clarke
June 17, 2009, 10:55 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills | Tags: , , ,

These men get a lot of money to punt a ball. So it is worth learning how they do it and how they prepare.

You can use these techniques with your players.

The rugby punt can be a spiral kick or a drop punt, but in American Football a drop punt would break your foot!

Better Rugby Coaching

Start of the Olympic bid for rugby by David Clarke
June 16, 2009, 8:20 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby News

Seven sports are battling out to get into the Olympics for 2016. Rugby sevens is one of them.

The iRB think they have a powerful case. See their video here.

They are meeting with officials this week.

Better Rugby Coaching

French flair doesn’t beat the All Blacks by David Clarke

Sometimes you can be quietly pleased with yourself. Since I wrote my blog about French flair on Friday and their seemingly frustrating inconsistency, they have followed my predictions.

Actually, until I saw the game, I was quite worried about my assertion about flair. I had said that many teams play with flair and not just the French. Had the French thrown caution (and some speculative miss passes) to the wind and beaten the All Blacks with dare-doing and risk? In one sense, not. Spectacular in defence not attack.

The French did the simple things well. They ran hard and straight. Maintained possession, preserved space, pressurised the All Blacks. From the highlights you can see that the New Zealand tries came from deep positions and they were the ones playing with “flair”. Pity about their tackling.

Does that mean that there is no place for flair in the game? Far from it, but not at the expense of the basics.

Better Rugby Coaching

French flair and earning the right to go wide by David Clarke

Coaches and commentators love to hold on to phrases that make them sound good.

“French flair” and “earning the right to go wide” are two such phrases which need a little thought.

French flair

There is no doubt that the French play rugby with passion, speed and risk.

The backs look like models from the catwalk, the forwards like something the cat has just brought in.

Er…can’t we say that about all countries? Perhaps not the looks, but all the top rugby playing nations have passion, speed and risk in their games.

And as to the French being unpredicatable. A professor of stats who I know looked into the French playing record and low and behold, like many top nations other than New Zealand, they won some games, then lost one, and then won some more and then lost one.

In a coaching sense, the French have a particular style. They like to play more than train. It’s natural. It’s healthy. They enjoy their rugby.

Earning the right to go wide

Spinning the ball down the back line seems like a joyous way to play rugby. Throw in a couple of hip sink passes and you could be watching a good game of rugger at an English prep school in the 1950s.

However if you haven’t tied in the defence, then “going wide” will be all for nothing. The defence will simply spread themselves across the field.

Simple logic, but a bit “old school”. Perhaps a return to the prep school will change your mind.

Spreading the ball wide causes the defence a number of problems:
1. They cannot defend narrow and so have to spread out. This leaves holes in the midfield if they decide to spread out.
2. All the front line defenders cannot be fleet-of-foot backs. There will be mismatches.
3. Spreading across the field needs bodies, bodies that cannot be in the back field to field kicks.
4. In chasing the ball across the field, players become tired. They might not hold their line integrity.
5. It is easier to go forward against a spread defence than a narrow defence.

Wales, the Lions and South Africa have all spread the ball wide in the last few seasons, without worrying about “earning the right”.