Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Tidy handling drills to get improve fast and soft hands by David Clarke

I like these drills because the players have to start outside their comfort zone and yet will enjoy the success when they are good at them. Ideal for warm ups and for work ons at the start of sessions.

I have used all these drills/activities and found them to work well with a good range of players. Probably a bit far advanced for Under 11s unless they are particularly skilful.



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.



What we can learn from video games by David Clarke
June 28, 2011, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

We find our kids spend too much time on them, become addicted to them and end up with pasty white faces…the curse of the video game.

But we can learn plenty from the kids “playing video games” for our own coaching.
1. Why do they play on them for so long
Because they are competitive. The players keep wanting more.
Lesson: players like to play and they enjoy a challenge.
2. They can make mistakes and not feel bad
“Game over” and start again is the worst they can hear.
Lesson: players know when they have made a mistake – don’t make a fuss, let them start again.
3. Practice makes perfect
They keep playing, experimenting and improving – the finger and eye coordination is breathtaking.
Lesson: think about the practice environment – they are playing a game, learning from their mistakes and working out how to solve the problems themselves.
4. No manuals, no help?
To start the game, they may use a brief tutorial, but then plunge straight in. However, they will want tips, cheats and shortcuts. They get this from their friends and surfing websites.
Lesson: be a port of call for problem solving, not just someone who tells them what to do. They will ask when they are ready – are you ready for them to ask?

Dan Cottrell



Great training activity for players just starting in rugby by David Clarke


The US rugby development team are doing a great job rolling out rugby to new players. Here is one their coaches showing young players how to develop lateral passing. It is not a new idea, but it is extremely well executed.

Better Rugby 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.

Better Rugby Coaching



Lineout training – it’s a crime by David Clarke

By Ian Diddams

If as a coach you were asked if you would give no input or coaching time to 25% of your side’s opportunities to win the ball, what would your answer be?

If I asked you if you would consider not bothering to practice opportunities to take ball legitmately from the oppostion, what might your answer be?

I would guess that you would be very unlikely to agree that these areas were worthy of consideration. I would imagine that you would answer that of course you wouldn’t ignore a quarter of opprtunities to win the ball, or ways to take the ball away from the opposing team.

So how much time at practice do you spend on your lineout development?

As coaches especially at child, youth and amateur levels our contact time with players is limited, often only 90 minutes a week, maybe double that if we are lucky over two sessions. It is especially difficult to achieve as much as we would like if we are the sole coach. These caveats notwithstanding however, it often seems that many sides spend little time on their lineout, and what does happen tends to be the forwards practising what they already do, compounded by little effort made to emulate a match day lineout with defending jumpers or time pressures.

The reasons, especially at age group levels, are understandable. Finding the time to fit in a session between warm-up, cool down, individual, unit and team skills is hard enough, not forgetting the pressing urgency at young age groups to also ensure that scrummage and post-tackle contest (ruck and maul) is practiced if only for player safety reasons. Allied to which may be the lack of understanding of the coaches themselves; if they never played in the forwards, are a convert from another sport or played when lineouts were very different how can they be expected to meaningfully coach this area?

It is not unusual to come across teenage age group teams that have no lineout plans, whether attacking or defending, and limited lineout skills. Jumping and timing with an accurate throw, options after the catch and defensive tactics are often not clearly in existence. Even at senior levels, it’s a case of “same old stuff” week after week.

So – when you are planning your next sessions for your squad, are you going to ignore, overlook or pay scant regard to 25% of your side’s chances of winning the ball? Or will you be thinking about your side’s lineout?

Better Rugby Coaching



Easy to set up rugby decision making drills by David Clarke

Taken from the R80 DVD from the Crusaders, here are two easy to set up handling and decision making drills.

Better Rugby Coaching



Too clever, not clever and funny rugby skills by David Clarke
October 1, 2010, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

The Aussie Super 15 the Brumbies show little respect for the video tricks of the All Blacks. Both great videos though.

Better Rugby Coaching



What have you forgotten about TAG rugby? by David Clarke
September 27, 2010, 8:13 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Training, TAG rugby | Tags: , ,

Tag rugby is an introductory game for young players and an exciting form of non-contact rugby for more experienced players.

In the mayhem and speed of the game, there are a number of pieces of the puzzle that can be forgotten.

Here are five areas you need to make sure you remember about TAG rugby.
1. Challenge the defence with every run, so they have to be moving backwards – this means no player should take the ball standing still on open play. Make this a rule in training.
2. In attack, if you are not running, you are not working. Support, realign, run dummy lines, take the ball up.
3. Deep support is crucial. That is a player who is behind the ball carrier and offers a quick get out pass which is not blocked by a defender.
4. In defence, go back to come forward. Defenders are constantly on the move. Running back into line and then forward together.
5. Anticpate the TAG or touch, don’t wait for it to happen. The ball carrier can pass because he wants to, not because he is forced to.

Better Rugby Coaching



Cheer up and remember why you are doing it by David Clarke
September 15, 2010, 10:02 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

Actually, there is nothing worse than someone saying: “Smile, it could be worse”, or “Cheer up!”

If you are in a mood, you are in a mood.

Unfortunately, when you are coaching a team, your persona affects the players. They certainly won’t be cheerier if you are grumpy.

Does that mean you have to be the life and soul of the training? YES IT DOES. Your energy is infectious.

Here are three ways to scrumple up that mood and kick it into touch before training begins.

1. You are about to change peoples lives. Relish that achievement.
2. You have spent all this time putting yourself into a position to coach better, why waste it? Seize the moment.
3. Smile and shake the hands of at least the first three people you meet. They will make you smile inside!

Mark Twain said:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Better Rugby Coaching