Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Tale of two coaches (part four) by David Clarke
February 14, 2011, 10:21 am
Filed under: A tale of two coaches, Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags:

Phil, a new under nines coach for this season finds himself under pressure…
Phil comes home from his Rugby Ready course and slumps into the nearest chair.

It is only for a moment. His youngest son is calling for him to read him a bedtime story.

“You’ve been out enjoying yourself”, shouts his wife from the living room, “and Matthew has been a right handful tonight.”

Phil is not unsympathetic, but just wishes he had a moment to reflect on the evening. As he sits down on the bed and pulls out his son’s favourite book, he remembers how physical the course was. Well, it was not that physical, but they had to do more activities and demonstrations than he expected. And there was a lot to take in. It is his mind that is shattered.

“Dad, you are not reading it right!” complains Matthew. “Sorry”, says Phil and turns his mind to the Gruffalo once again.

He does not sleep well. He is excited and worried. He is thinking about how to coach the team. There is so much to cover and in such a short space of time. He needs to look up the rules for this age group. “Not rules” rings in his ears from one of the course leaders, “It’s laws, the laws of the game”.
With the season looming in six weeks time, there is no chance to go on a Level 1 course. Phil does not think he would have been able to find the time anyway. He is away with the family on holiday, plus weekends are pretty full on already.

Three weeks before the season starts, and just after he has returned from holiday, he receives a call in the evening from the CCC. “What’s the CCC?” he asks Nigel, whom he met at the Junior meeting a couple of months ago. “I’m the guy who supports you through the processes of coaching and running your team. I will help you identify your coaching needs, and give you guidance on how to plan your season.” “Great”, says Phil, “Have you got a plan for the U9s for this season?”

Now, this is a tough question for Nigel. He has been doing the job for the last two years and has thoroughly enjoyed working with the coaches at all levels. He is an insurance administrator by trade. He manages to fit in lots of club admin work around his job (and under the radar of his boss!) He answers Phil’s question full on: “No, I don’t have a plan for the U9s, that’s for you to do.”

Phil answers first in his head, before toning down his next question: “Where do I bleeding start?”

Nigel notes his exasperation. He has to think for himself. “I did coach Under 9s about four years ago, but I can’t say we did a plan. We knew we had to cover tackling and passing and then it was a case of reacting to how the sessions went and then covering what went badly next week. After a match we would have a chat and then allocate tasks to each coach.”
Phil asks: “So we were told on the Rugby Ready course to have a plan for the season, but I still don’t know what to cover. Is there a curriculum?”
Nigel replies: “Well, start with the safety aspects of contact and then demonstrate a safe tackle”
Phil says: “Should I cover all the tackles, or just one?”
Nigel says: “All of them.”
“In the first week? What about passing”
“Right, I see what you mean”
Nigel is slightly put out by these questions. He knows his rugby and has coached children’s teams for a number of years. “Let me get back to you on this…perhaps we can sit down over a beer very soon and go through this.”

Phil appreciates Nigel’s care. However, he is becoming increasingly nervous about what to cover in the first few weeks. In fact, what should a session look like. A warm up, some skills and a game and a warm down. That much he knows. But what exactly does a warm up look like.
He is also beginning to panic about numbers. He looks back at his lists of players from last season. A quick count means he has one fewer registered than the number needed for a full team.

“Your first match is not until five weeks into the season,” Nigel reassures him when they next speak. “You should have plenty of time to recruit some players.”

After the call, Nigel confides in the club Chair that he fears that the Phil’s team might fold. “It looks as if the new guy is struggling for numbers and doesn’t have a clue on what to coach.” Nigel is surprised by the response: “Looks like a good challenge for you Nige. Better get busy!”
Stung into a response, Nigel is on the phone to his local rugby union development officer. “Right, let’s have a recruitment day on the first Sunday of the season. Sort out some flyers for the local schools. Ring up the local paper and radio stations. I will see if I can speak to the professional club for a personal appearance from one of their stars.”

Nigel spends the next two days working on sorting out the recruitment day, booking catering and sourcing a printer for some flyers. He rings Phil, excited by his progress.

“Hi Phil, its Nigel, just catching up on few things.”

“Hi Nigel. I am glad you rang. I was going to call you last night, but didn’t get the chance. Look, after our chat the other day, I felt quite despondent and after much thought, I think it is best I step down. I am not suited for this and I don’t think I have the time.”

Next time we find out how Nigel responds, and we return to Doug, who was in the middle of a recruitment and registration controversy.

Better Rugby Coaching


1 Comment so far
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Oh the joys of communication……
And a lack of clarity about the roles of the coach. Should the coach be the one recruiting players? Should a club have a coach in each age group.
We try to ensure we have a team of three coaches per age group. The idea being people have lives outside rugby (my wife will beg to differ but…..) also this allows for ideas to be shared as well as not putting everything on one coach. The idea then spreads to having a team manager who liaises with the fixtures secretary, the registrar, caterers and the like to cover all the non-coaching stuff.
Its only little stuff but it stops a valuable volunteer like Phil feeling swamped and stepping down before starting (equally the club has invested in his rugby ready course – admittedly not much but in these times every little counts). The thing is if a volunteer steps down it is so much harder to get another one as the perceiption is that the role is ‘too much’.

Comment by spike

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