Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Most players just follow orders by David Clarke
July 23, 2009, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , ,

Don’t be fooled into thinking that players know what they are doing. Most don’t, they just follow orders.

Well, you wish they did follow orders, but sometimes they forget them altogether, and make even more horrendous mistakes.

And then, just when you think they might be progressing to the next level, someone on a coaching course tells you that you should be using more “game sense” exercises. You go back, tear up the rule book and watch as the players become even more confused.

Game sense is the fancy term for playing “football”, a term I knew when I was starting out playing first class rugby. The “footballer” knew when to pass, kick or run because he played what was in front of him, rather than keeping rigidly to a set of rules.

Introducing game sense sessions to more established players and coaches can be difficult. They prefer the drill-based nature of training, where the drills neatly lead to players moving evenly around the stations over a period of time.

There is no harm in that. It creates repetitive situations allowing players to hone their skills in different environments. Many drills are game related and are arguable already game sense in their nature. A 2 v 1 drill is a good example.

However, the game sense approach is more subtle than that. Instead, players have to make a multiple range of decisions based on a number of factors. These factors are plucked directly from game situations. Interestingly you don’t need to have just purely rugby related situations to help communication, footwork and handling.

But the key to all this: there are lots of right answers and plenty of probably wrong answers. The best players EVALUATE the best options and execute them accurately and on time.



South Africa produce the best passers by David Clarke

The best passers of the ball in world rugby are South Africa, according to Lynn Evans. The former Oxford University coach and well respected coach educator around the world, says that he thinks the World Cup winners have the best skills.

“They are extremely well drilled and rarely do you see a dropped ball,” he says, speaking in August’s International Rugby Technical Journal.

This example of great handing shows backs and forwards shift the ball quickly across the field before Bobby Skinstad performs a wonderful one handed pass to the openside flanker to race in to score.

Better Rugby Coaching



Where’s the space by David Clarke

wheres the space

Though this picture was taken pre ELVs, it is amazing how much space there is from a scrum.

Where would you attack? Would you use a pre-planned move?

The players have to decide how to react to what the defence does, even if a pre-planned move is called.

Who reacts and who decides? Ultimately the ball carrier makes a decision on whether to run with the ball, kick or pass, but his decision can be heavily influenced by the players around him. His support players need to be telling him where the space is and if they are close enough to support him in that endeavour.

Better Rugby Coaching



Fix a defender to score tries by David Clarke
July 20, 2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills | Tags: , ,

Lots of things could be picked out from the first Tri Nations match of 2009 between the All Blacks and Australia.

However, there was one thing that struck me about the first try, scored by the Wallabies.

Berrick Barnes, the eventual scorer, was allowed the space to break the line because the previous player had “fixed” the defender. He stepped in with the pass, drew two defenders, and released Barnes through the gap. And the player in question was a hooker!

It is not seen enough in the game, even at the top level where a number of the Lions players were guilty of drifting with the pass, and eating up the space for others.

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Rugby wrestling by David Clarke

I have been using a defence drill which uses some of the elements of wrestling. It follows up research I did into 600 tackles over five games and the types of tackle players perform around the ruck and scrum. To warm up I use some of the drills used in the video above.

The drill and game situation will be available in mid August as an Advanced Skills Smart Session.

Better Rugby Coaching



Rugby preseason might need a new approach by David Clarke
July 16, 2009, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: ,

In Europe, coaches are focusing on their preseason programmes. In the Southern Hemisphere, many teams are mid season. The rugby season never closes around the world (or perhaps even sleeps!)

One idea that has started making the rounds is that preseason training should cover less and focus on individual rather than team needs. Therefore a 90 minute session might have lots of different sessions going on with say some players working on sprinting, others on aerobic fitness, maybe some on passing.

This makes sense in some ways, because some teams never get everyone together for preseason because of holidays and other commitments. The onus on the coach is to identify these weaknesses with the players and devise methods of coaching it.

Much easier if you have a team of coaches of course, but there is an opportunity to use peer coaching which gives the added the benefits of empowerment.

A hybrid solution would be to do both, with half the session having a team, the rest of the time spent on individual needs.

Better Rugby Coaching



Rugby ladder drills by David Clarke
July 14, 2009, 7:59 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness

Fast feet means better agility. It is a key factor for all the players.

As a training aid, ladders can play a part in the process of improving rugby agility. This video from our friends at Rugby World have produced a good little video to give you some ideas on how to use ladders.

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