Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Rugby coaches don’t just coach rugby by David Clarke

If rugby coaching was just about 90 minutes of coaching, perhaps twice a week and a game on Saturday, then it would be easy.

Add to that analysis, selection and planning and then the time mounts up.

But it is always the case that you actually spend as much time “coaching rugby” as you do being a mini psycho-analyst.

Take for instance the revelations this week about Gareth Thomas and his sexuality. It was an open secret amongst a number of people in rugby circles. As such, the open announcement was no surprise to some, but obviously a shock to others. He confided in his coach at the time, who was able to give some advice and support.

I have played against an openly gay rugby team and once we started the game, it was a game of rugby and no one cared. Just because you are a man, it doesn’t mean another gay man automatically fancies you. The game is great leveler and is full of fun characters who happily see the ridiculous within themselves.

As a coach, you have to deal with various personal issues for the players. Sometimes you have little involvement and it might be good to keep it that way. However, whether you seek the role or not, you are likely to become a source of counselling for other players.

The more you can empathise, the easier it is to communicate with the players. The more you can study the way the mind works, the better coach you will be. It may be better to spend time on the “mental” coaching of players than the tactical and technical.

Better Rugby Coaching

The way to think of yourself as a coach by David Clarke
December 16, 2009, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: ,

Here is an interesting quiz for you to consider (taken from coaching guru, Nigel Risner email):

Take a moment to answer each of the questions, and read all the way through. I think you’ll find it well worth a moment of your time.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss World pageant.
4. Name five people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.
5. Name last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Actor or Actress.

The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List three teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. List three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Name someone who made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Better Rugby Coaching

Simple drill ideas from Richie McCaw by David Clarke

Here is an interview with Richie McCaw, but in the background you can see some simple ideas for drills around the breakdown.

He has obviously built this up for the players, in stages.
What we can see at the end is about four different elements:
1. Ball placement
2. Clearing the threat or challenging for the ball.
3. Clearing the next threat
4. Playing on from the ruck.

Better Rugby Coaching

Boring? It’s boom time in the tryless world of Mike Ford and Shaun Edwards by David Clarke

Boring? It’s boom time in the tryless world of Mike Ford and Shaun Edwards

From The Times
December 10, 2009
John Westerby

While much of the rugby world gnashes its teeth at the shortage of tries that is blighting the game, there is one group of people who may be forgiven a wry smile.

For the game’s defence coaches, the Scrooges whose job it is to stop tries, this could be seen as boom time, with attacking teams consistently struggling to pick a way through carefully constructed defensive systems.

Much of the blame for this season’s sterile rugby has been laid with the new breakdown law, which has denied attacking teams the quick ball they need to prosper. But another common complaint from players is that modern defences have become too strong, that it is harder than ever to find a path to the try-line. So have defence coaches become too good at their jobs?

Leading the case for the defence is Mike Ford, whom Martin Johnson, the England team manager, entrusts with preventing the opposition scoring. Although England scored only one try in three disappointing autumn internationals last month, they conceded only three: two against Australia and one against New Zealand.

“I think the amount of time spent on defence in rugby union is now greater than it has ever been,” Ford said. “When I came into union [from rugby league] with Ireland in 2002, we’d have a team meeting and it was all about attack, nobody would mention defence. In rugby league, defence is the first thing you learn and in training, it’s 50 per cent defence.

“Union has come a long way since then and now, with England, I probably get about a third of training time. A third on attack, a third on defence and a third on the set-piece is about the right split.” Continue reading

Woodward’s 10 Commandments on winning by David Clarke

Here is an article written just before the 2007 World Cup.

It was written by Spiro Zavos September 7th 2007 in the Roar. The sentiments make for interesting reading.
Clive Woodward is one of only five coaches who worked out how to win the Rugby World Cup.

In ‘The Times’ he has given his 10 Commandments on ‘How To Win The World Cup.’

1. You need the whole game behind you. 2. Try to arrive as favourites. 3. Experience. 4. Playing in your own hemisphere and particularly your own country 5. A settled team. 6. A tried and trusted way of playing. 7. Leadership 8. The need for world class people in support of the players. 9. Deal with the energy sappers and the termites. 10. Totally understand your opposition.

These 10 Commandments are very similar to the 7 Factors that I described in ‘Watching The Rugby World Cup‘: Home ground advantage, Capabilities of the Coach, Chemistry of the side, Quality of the first five-eighth, Leadership qualities of the captain, Kind of game played, Momentum.

Woodward points to the build-up by the All Blacks, 38 wins out of their last 43 tests as being similar to that of England in 2003 with their 35 test wins in their 40 games going into the 2003 RWC, as the factor that makes them favourites to win the Webb Ellis trophy: ‘In most sports, favourites tend to win.’

However, he says that being favourites does put a team under huge pressure: ‘I await with interest to see whether New Zealand can withstand it.’

‘The big danger,’ Woodward suggests, ‘comes from France.’ And also the Wallabies: ‘Australia will not be afraid of New Zealand on neutral ground so an All Black triumph is not a foregone conclusion.’

Better Rugby Coaching

What did the autumn internationals show us? by David Clarke
December 7, 2009, 10:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

A great article from the UK Sunday Telegraph

Paul Ackford: What did the autumn internationals show us?
As New Zealand, the last of the European visitors, head for home and the beach, five observations on a turbulent five weeks of international action.

The result is all in the empowerment

Two cameos before England’s encounter with New Zealand: In the black corner, Steve Hansen, the All Blacks backs coach, 30 minutes before kick off, leaning against the posts making a call on his mobile phone while his charges went through their repertoire unsupervised.

At the same time, in the white corner, at the other end of the Twickenham pitch, England had three coaches on the go, all hustle and bustle, with players running this way and that. What was it Dylan Hartley, England’s hooker, said this week?

“I don’t feel I’m playing my best rugby for England. Some of it might be down to a fear of failure, a case of not being able to relax and not wanting to go outside of the system.”

When in doubt get it out

The preamble before Ireland’s home games is as drawn out as anywhere in the world, what with the anthems, Ireland’s Call, and President Mary McAleese meeting and greeting the two teams, plus match officials. So how did Jamie Heaslip, Ireland’s No 8, prepare for the long wait in the numbing cold?

By running out in shorts and short-sleeved shirt, biceps bulging, as the Springboks ambled on to the pitch wrapped up in tracksuits. As a statement of aggressive intent, Heaslip’s gesture was more potent than the most ferocious Haka.

Let’s hear it for the grunters

For all the discussion about the chaos at the breakdown, one facet of the game made a welcome comeback. The scrummage. England’s was far better than most feared given their lack of first-choice props.

France showed that front-five forwards need to make tackles as well as shove. Australia and Matt Giteau demonstrated how good they could be when they have a respectable scrum. And Ireland are still searching for one.

Some things never change

The current generation of players are quicker, more athletic, more capable than any that has preceded them. They are asked to operate in an environment which is more hostile, more complex, and more demanding. Yet there remains a common thread which connects rugby players through the ages.

The best forwards are still markedly inferior to the worst backs when they get the ball in space. The big guys should stick to ball-production, the slightly less-big guys to doing something interesting with it when they get it.

Make of it what you will

There have been around 20 major Test matches all over Europe this autumn and about 20 zillion articles, conversations and discussions trying to make sense of them. Only one truth has emerged.

As the debate still rages over whether England and France have actually improved or are treading water, whether Australia are the world champs in waiting, whether the Boks are in free fall, whether Andy Robinson has got a handle on Scotland, whether Warren Gatland will continue to talk a better game than the one he conjures from his players, and whether Ireland really can sustain an assault on a World Cup.

There is absolutely no argument that virtually all the entertainment has been provided by the boys from the southern hemisphere.

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The IRB strength and conditioning website by David Clarke
December 3, 2009, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , , ,

IRB launch free strength and conditioning guide

From the IRB:

“On this site, you will learn about the basics of Health and Safety, Exercise Instruction, Gymnasium Induction & Environment and via our online learning system you can start on the pathway to achieving Strength and Conditioning accreditation, as recognised by the IRB.

This exciting format connects basic exercises to the dynamics of the Game. The learning process uses the written word along with video demonstration and real time international game footage, as shown opposite and below.

Modular additions will logically be provided on a quarterly basis followed by the Level 2 qualification in September 2010.”

You need to complete the Rugby Ready strength and conditioning course.

The link to visit is here.

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