Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Learn set piece moves from this year’s Super 15 by David Clarke

Some great moves to try out, but of course, they need:
1. Good set piece ball.
2. Pace onto the ball.
3. Players who are willing to change their angles to find the gaps.
4. Accurate execution of skills.

Lots of wrap arounds here by the way.



Some great pre season team building ideas here by David Clarke

Here is a team building exercise video. Obviously you can use the equipment they provide, but some of them are generic too.

Remember: rugby is a dynamic game of changing situations and these exercises can build rugby mental strength.

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

Three of the easiest ways to help win games by David Clarke

Make sure you have done the easiest methods of winning games first, before sweating over the hard stuff.

1. Referees return
Straight after the game, always thank the referee AND do so enthusiatically. Make him want to come back to referee your team. This positive attitude will reflect well on your team and you. Referees want to work with positive teams and will give them the leeway to play and act positively. Build this over the seasons.
2. Plan your substitutions and injury replacements
In the heat of the game, an injury can cause untold disruption if there is not clear plan. It only takes a couple of minutes before the game to write out the possible substitutions and replacements.
3. Remind the players about the first minute of the game
You know what you are doing with your own kick off. You should also know what to do with a kick off receipt. These are the last words to the players before they take the pitch: what we do for the first moments of the game. It takes a minute to remind them and that focus can set the tone for the whole game.

Better Rugby Coaching

Wales coach Gatland on international management by David Clarke
November 12, 2010, 9:31 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , , ,

This is an excellent insight into the modern coaching methods of an international coach. Warren Gatland tells a leadership training site ( how he approaches his players. Like many coaches of the top teams, he says he is surprisingly hands off. He wants the players to make the decisions – he wants to empower them so there is mutual trust.

Listen to his frank interview by going to this website. You have to register, but there is plenty of good management content to view and it is free.

Better Rugby Coaching

A team of superstars or a team of friends by David Clarke

When you are building your team, what are you striving for?

There are two things I want. First, I love winning. And first, I want the players to enjoy their rugby in the long run.

Er…that doesn’t make sense or always work together. Development versus winning is constant battle for many coaches.

The clever rugby coach can have both. If you are at the top of the tree, you have to. You may have to compromise development to win, but you still need development. You can do this by the rugby drills and rugby skills you coach.

You have to enjoy what you are doing. You have to be amongst friends. That is where it is worth drawing the line on winning and development. Be with players who share your vision and lose the players who are in it for themselves, even if they are the best player.

Better Rugby Coaching

A tale of two rugby coaches (part one) by David Clarke

Two coaches started out in junior rugby at the same time. Both had similar rugby backgrounds and teams, but one is still coaching, whilst the other gave up. One not only won more than he lost, he has increased the number of players in his squad. The other found he was constant coaching fewer players.

What made the difference?

Let us call one Phil and other Doug. They both has sons who were playing rugby and found that when the game moved to full contact that they were “persuaded” to help out with the coaching.

Phil had played a good standard of rugby up until college days, but had left rugby behind to concentrate on playing squash and his studies. Doug played through college and eventually played a couple of years in senior rugby before, like Phil he decided to put his energies elsewhere.

Both enjoyed going to watch rugby, though neither found they had the time to go more than a couple of times a year, and an international match was a luxury. But come a major international or the Lions games, then they would be both at the bar with their friends, cheering on their country.

Phil and Doug settled down to family life and when their sons were old enough, they took them down to their local clubs. Tag rugby had its frustrations, but the boys were good at rugby and became key players in their club side.

At the end of their last Tag season, Phil and Doug found that the Tag head coach was standing down. Both knew how much their sons loved the game and were chomping at the bit to play contact rugby. They were a little flattered that their respective clubs asked them to take on the role of head coach: “You have played the game and your son is one of the best players…you would be ideal.”

This is where their journeys begin to part…