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.



Day 29 of August pre season training tips: countdown to first game by David Clarke
September 1, 2010, 7:42 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Team Management, top tips | Tags: , ,

August 29

Countdown to the first game

Here are five key moments to get right before your first game.

1. Kit! Make sure everyone is correctly dressed to go onto the field. In the last minute nerves, kit issues will derail players concentration. Look smart, play smart.
2. Plan for first five minutes of the game. If you are kicking off, where will it go, how will you deal with the consequences of what the opposition might do to you. And the same if they kick off to you.
3. Focus on the present and not the future. Don’t make the result of this game a cornerstone of the season. Remove the tension by focusing on the processes, such as lineouts, set pieces and defence.
4. Hydrate yourself. You must be on top of your powers to guide the team. You should not neglect your own energy systems.
5. Remind yourself why your enjoy rugby and then try to give some of that feeling into how you prepare for the last moments of the game.

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.

Better Rugby Coaching

Day thirteen of August pre season training tips: kicking by David Clarke

August 13


Surely there is no real time in pre season training to practise kicking. Well, let’s define what we mean by kicking first and then see how to fit it in.

Goal kicking: individual work on. You can spend time at the end of the session with ALL the potential goal kickers to see how they are progressing. If you can, have some form of kicking competition because goal kicking is as much about pressure as it is about technique.

Kick offs: it is a key set piece component, so you will have to practise this during training anyway. However, whilst you are setting up players for either kick receipts or kick offs, the kick off kickers can be practising their drop kicks.

Kicking for touch from penalties: when you split into backs and forwards for unit play, the one or two players who are likely to carrying out touch kicks from penalties can spend 5-10 minutes kicking to a target from a static position. Technique is vital, with the foot being rigid, the ball being dropped down the middle of the body and the leg following through to the target.

Kicking in open play: okay, there is little time in pre season for this unless you have weeks of preparation. Instead, encourage kicking in your touch games. And no doubt all your front row players will be practising their drop goals before training anyway.

Better Rugby Coaching

Day twelve of August pre season training tips: speed of thought by David Clarke

August 12

Speed of thought

Sharpen your players’ minds as well as their bodies in pre season. Put them into situations where they have to make tactical decisions quickly and decisively.

Here are five ways to increase your team’s speed of thought.
1. Every exercise has at least one decision during the exercise or in its development:
a. A passing exercise requires at one pass to be either short or long, or beat a defender.
b. A tackling exercise requires a player to challenge for the ball, or decide what height to go in at, or who to cover.
c. A support exercise requires the support player to be ready to take an offload or clear away threats from the tackled player.
2. Reduce the time in which an exercise has to be completed. Say five passes and shuttles should be finished in 20 seconds, not 30.
3. Make an exercise a competition. How quickly can this be completed, or how many can be done in a certain time. Ensure that good technique triumphs over poor.
4. Play a game of high intensity touch rugby for three minutes straight after a gruelling fitness section.
5. Reduce the size of the exercise area OR make it much, much larger.

Better Rugby Coaching

Day eleven of August pre season training tips: support play by David Clarke

August 11

Support play

Though support play is not a technical skill, it is still a core skill. The detail of support can easily be ignored in pre season training programmes, but you can integrate it into every session.

Any time there is a ball and two attackers in an exercise there is an element of support play. Focus your attention equally on the support player as the ball carrier.

Use these pre season “rules” to ensure your support players work as hard as the ball carrier.
1. No pass should go to a player standing still.
2. No pass should go to a player unless he is calling for it.
3. If a player goes into contact, then the nearest player has to support in the contact within two seconds, no matter who they are. (They can also be made to call out to the ball carrier what they want them to do, like “go to ground” or “stay on your feet”).

Play a game of touch rugby using one or more of these rules:
• The passer MUST follow his pass, otherwise the ball is turned over.
• The ball carrier has one second to offload the ball if they are touched (that is almost as they are touched). If they don’t they have to drop to the ground in a ball placement position.
• If the ball carrier has gone to ground, make it a contest for the ball between one opposition player and one attacker. Both have to come through the “gate” (that is from behind the back foot).

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Day ten of the August pre season training tips: lineout by David Clarke

August 10


Pre season for the lineout is about building a lineout for the season, and not the finished product. You will have more variations after three months and even more by the end of the season.

Here are five tips for pre season:
1. Focus on winning front ball first. This means a fast jump.
2. Can your players actually jump? Not just the “jumpers” but all the players. Jumping is explosive, so everyone needs to be able to do it.
3. Work on “throw-jump”. That is the hooker throws and then the jumper jumps. This will test both early on.
4. Play jumping games for the ball, so the players get used to competition for the ball.
5. Can your jumpers jump without “bouncing” first? If they can, it will help them beat their opposite number into the air. It also means the lifters (if you use them), will have to be sharper on the lift.

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