Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

One hundred words for rugby coaching by David Clarke

Given that the England soccer manager, Fabio Capello, believes that he only needs 100 words to talk to the players, I set out to produce a similiar list. In fact, I got to 106, but I am sure I have left some out.

The rule for the list is this: ONE WORD IN means ONE WORD OUT. So any suggestions must come with a word to leave out.

Advantage, Backs, Back Play, Ball, Bind, Blind Side, Blitz, Box Kick, Centre, Charge Down, Chip, Clean Out, Clearance, Communication, Concentrate, Conditioning, Contact, Conversion, Cool Down, Corner flagging, Crash Ball, Dead Ball, Decision Making, Decoy, Defensive Line, Development, Drift, Drive, Drop Goal, Drop Out, Dummy, Engage, Fast Hands, First Phase, Five Metre, Fix, Flankers, Flat Pass, Fly Half, Footwork, Forward Pass, Forwards, Foul Play, Free Kick, Fringes, Front Row, Gain Line, Game Plan, Game Sense, Gate, Go Forward, Grid, Grubber, Handoff, Hooker, Inside Centre, Jackle, Jumper, Kick, Knock-On, Laws, Lifter, Lineout, Line Speed, Lock, Loose Head Prop, Mark, Maul, Miss, No 8, Offside, Open Side, Outside Centre, Overlap, Pass, Peel, Penalty, Phase Play, Punt, Quick Ball, Recycling, Restart, Ruck, Scrum, Scrum Half, Seal, Second Phase, Set Piece, Set Play, Sevens, Side Step, Skill, Slow Ball, Spin Pass, Support, Switch, Tackle, Technique, Tight Head Prop, Touch, Try, Turnover, Warm-Up, Wheel, Wing,Yellow Card.

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NZ thrill for Sevens Commonwealth games title, but don’t biggest cheer by David Clarke

The biggest cheer at the Commonwealth games sevens came when the charismatic Indian sevens captain, Nasser Hussain scored their only try in their first game.

Indian rugby is not a world force. But sevens can offer a way in for smaller nations to compete. Samoa and Fiji have been able to express themselves on the sevens stage as equals whereas they often struggle in the 15-a-side game.

The game is just as physical, so it makes sense to use sevens as part of your training regimes and not just some “fun” when the sun comes out. It might a good change from rugby drills or rugby fitness training.

In the end, the Commonwealth Games sevens was won by New Zealand. They have not been at their strongest this year and Australia and ran them close. But great rugby to watch. If I can find some highlights, I will post them soon.

Bring on the Olympics!

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Day 25 of August pre season training tips: weights by David Clarke

August 25


I am not going to be giving specific weights programmes in this post. There are three good reasons. First, players have different access to gym facilities. Second, every player has different needs that require specific programmes to match their position. And last, weights should be used under supervision.

What I can tell you is this:
1. You need to encourage excellent habits when using weights and being in the gym. If you are not a qualified conditioner yourself, the players should be taking advice from someone else who has the team’s interests at heart.
2. You need to help plan when players use the gym. But don’t be rigid. I know top players who have done weights on the morning of the match! Obviously it did not fatigue them and it was a personal preference.
3. Pre season is a time when the players can lift heavier weights than during the season. They are in a “growing” stage of the year, whereas during the season they are in a maintenance stage.

And when can young players start lifting weights? As early as you want according to the research BUT under strict guidelines, which in the main help youngsters develop good techniques, and not lift heavy weights.

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Day twenty of the August pre season training tips: warm down by David Clarke

August 20

Warm down

Pre season is a good time work on helping players maintain good habits. After each session, though the temptation will be to jump in the car and go, it is important to have some form of warm down.

Think of warm down as part of the recovery process towards being in better shape for the next session. There are several ways you can help your players warm down effectively.

1. Finish the session with “static” stretches to the large muscle groups. Static stretches are held extensions of the muscles. The large muscles groups are mainly the legs and back.
2. Use some gentle jogging.
3. Encourage the players to take a cold shower. Use an ice bath set up, if you have one (and if you do, you will have an understanding of the timings involved).
4. Ask the players to invest in some compression tights.
5. Encourage the players to be off their feet as much as possible the day after a very heavy session.

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Day nineteen of August pre season training tips: water by David Clarke
August 21, 2010, 9:16 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , , , ,

August 19


15. Water

Whatever the weather, players must drink. However too much water and they can reduce the effectiveness of the energy systems in their body.

A player who has not drunk enough water will be more tired and less speedy than a properly hydrated player.

Here are five tips for you and your players in pre season to be in tune with hydration.

1. Weigh the players in their pants before and after training. Note down the weights before and after to note the percentage loss due to sweat. Too great a loss and not enough water is being taken on.
2. Players should start drinking water long before training starts. They should be thinking they need to have had a couple of large glasses of water before coming to training.
3. Players should start the day with a couple of large glasses of water, but then spend the rest of the day sipping water.
4. A good guide to hydration is that a player’s urine is pale yellow (not clear).
5. It is okay to drink tea and coffee. However, since these are diuretics, that is enhance dehydration, so an equal amount of water should be drunk to balance this.

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Day eighteen of the August pre season training tips: cutting edge by David Clarke

August 18

Cutting edge

You can create a cutting edge in your team over pre season. In a previous blog, I talked about improving your speed of thought (Day 12). You want to be able to generate a team that can impose itself on other teams.
Here are five ways to “impose” yourself on other teams, and use pre season to start this process:
1. Become fitter in the areas where you have a strength. If you are a large team who likes set piece, work harder on upper body work. If you are a fast team who like to keep the ball alive, then work on speed and stamina. You might say “how about our weaknesses”? Well, be strong in what you can do first and then the other areas will start to fall into place as the season unfolds.

2. Develop and practise a few “killer” moves from set pieces and second phases. Have these as near to perfect as you can. Only then start on the next set of moves.

3. Work on “chunking” a game into segments of time. How do you play in the first five minutes. What you might do from 5 to 20 minutes if you are ahead or behind. How do you aim to finish the first half. Think about the fatigue elements. If players focus on these chunks of time, the scoreboard and all the psychological effects it can have on the players become less important.

4. Build a defence culture that celebrates success. If the ball is turned over, or the opposition has to kick, make sure the team acknowledge this and the opposition know about it.

5. Know what “tempo” wins you games. Does your side like to play with pace, use set piece and play close to the breakdown, or break the game up with kicks? Know this and then you can aim to capture that in the game. Pre season is an ideal time to work on the specifics of how the tempo of your game develops.

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Day fifteen of the August pre season training tips: warm ups by David Clarke

August 15

Warm ups

I am going to be a little controversial here. You don’t need to warm up.

There I said it.

Actually, you need to change the mindset to “preparing to train or play”. The mind and body need to be switched into action. That cannot be done immediately. Spend some time gradually building up the intensity.

What needs to be in your pre season warm up (last time I use that expression in this piece)

1. A game (like touch rugby or rugby netball) – this will get players onto the pitch quicker.
2. Some raising of the heart rate – this can be done in a game.
3. An increase in mental arousal – to put players in the right frame of mind (again can be done in a game).
4. Some movements and contact which start to replicate the exercises ahead.
5. A minute or two for players to “stretch” themselves if they want to. Players who are stiff or recovering from injury might use this time to activate their muscles. Others will simply run around with a ball.

Anecdotally, I used these activities before sessions most of last season when I was in charge of teams. I can report no pulled or strained muscles during the sessions.
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