Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Back to blog – and so much coaching to talk about by dancottrell

Been away from the blog for a little while, though not stopped interviewing, writing and producing materials. This month alone I have been putting together articles with Brian Smith, Didier Retiere, Denis Betts, Russell Earnshaw, Tony Hanks, Justin Bishop and Richard Graham. Plus welcomed on board the Rugby Weekly Team two great new grassroots coaches who are coaching tutors and mentors.

Coaching wise I have been working with three teams, all with different cultures, ambitions and outcomes. Plus I have been speaking to lots of you about the ups and downs of coaching.

Look forward to catching with you over the Xmas period and writing about what is happening in the rugby coaching world.



Great rugby tackling drill for kids by David Clarke

Loved this video, dying to try it out soon. Must be great for young players who are learning how to tackle.


Dealing With the Irrational or Irate Parents. | Trends & Events Talks & Meetings from by David Clarke
January 5, 2011, 10:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dealing With the Irrational or Irate Parents. | Trends & Events Talks & Meetings from

Lessons from top soccer manager Alex Ferguson by David Clarke
October 1, 2010, 1:02 pm
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[Taken from our sister site, Better Soccer Coaching)

dave clarkeSir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, sees four main characteristics that make a good coach.

  • Observation
  • Perseverance
  • Imagination
  • Communication

Ferguson says that observation is vital – if you are too involved you miss a lot of things. It is a good idea to stand back sometimes and watch someone else coach while you observe the players.

He says you need perseverance because coaching is not easy and you have to come back after a defeat full of confidence for the next game. “You have to keep the fire in your belly,” confirms Ferguson.

Imagination is important because when you are asked what was your best ever goal as a coach you want to identify a perfect goal that you influenced. This is down to your imagination and how you get things across to the players in your training sessions. As a young coach Ferguson thought up creative ways of coaching to inspire his players. “you create a chain reaction which produces thinking players and this is a wonderful thing to develop” he says.

And simple communication is vital. Ferguson believes making it clear what you are after in a coaching session should be top of a coach’s list. “You see those training sessions where the coach is talking all the time and the message is lost – the words get lost in the wind.”

The players want to get on with it so don’t ramble on. “Talking too much is a big danger for a coach.”

Watch this clip of Sir Alex when he was inspiring Aberdeen in the 80s to winning everything in Scotland against all odds. Listen to what he has to say about being an inspiring manager:

Better Rugby Coaching

Day six of August pre season training tips: boots and blisters by David Clarke
August 5, 2010, 10:23 pm
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August 6

Boots and blisters

A look at the causes, prevention and cure of a common sporting injury.

When to use boots
Hard ground often means that players get blisters and sore ankles before the season even gets under way. Stiff boots from last season and new boots with long studs are the worst offenders. If your players cannot stretch to buying moulded studded boots or hockey astro boots then you need to think carefully about the type of training you are going to embark on.

Do all warm ups in trainers – players can then be suitably stretched and supple to take on the jarring effects of boots.

Have a good supply of plasters, corn plasters and Vaseline. Few players think ahead – sometimes you have made progress if they have remembered to bring their boots!

It is worth increasing the time training in boots from session to session.

A player’s guide to blister prevention
When trying on boots, be sure to wear the same socks, insoles, or orthotic inserts that you wear when playing. Try on boots in the afternoon or evening, because feet tend to swell during the day. Walk or jog around the shop before buying them.

Socks can decrease friction between the feet and shoes.

Layering of socks or special double-layered socks can minimise shearing forces. Wear socks made from polypropylene or other new synthetic materials which can wick moisture away from the skin more effectively than wool or cotton, further decreasing the likelihood of blisters. You can also carry extra pairs of socks to change into if your socks become too damp.

Another preventative measure is to use padded insoles to decrease friction in a specific area. Drying agents can also help.

A thin layer of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) can also be applied to the feet to decrease friction. Conditioning the skin by gradually increasing activity tends to lead to formation of protective calluses rather than blisters. Finally, you can apply cloth tape or electrical tape over areas prone to blistering before you train or play.

If you get a blister, you’ll want to relieve your pain, keep the blister from enlarging, and stave off infection. Specific steps depend on the size of the blister and whether or not it is intact. You can treat the vast majority of blisters yourself and need to call a doctor only if blisters become infected, recur frequently, form in unusual locations, or are very severe.

Playing rugby with small blisters
Wear additional padding; ring-shaped pads made of felt will protect small blisters. And be careful to check blisters after the game for infection.

Blister buster
Signs of infection include pus draining from the blister, very red or warm skin around the blister, and red streaks leading away from the blister.

Small, intact blisters that don’t cause discomfort usually don’t need treatment. Nature’s best protection against infection is a blister’s own skin, or roof. To protect the roof, this type of blister can be covered with a small adhesive bandage if practical.

Larger or more painful blisters that are intact can be drained, but this process needs to be undertaken very carefully and with the right equipment. Consult someone with some medical expertise.

Better Rugby Coaching

Front row binding by David Clarke
May 19, 2010, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here are the New Zealand team binding up quickly. Notice how loose their binds are, but how comfortable they look once bound, plus how balanced.

Better Rugby Coaching

What did the autumn internationals show us? by David Clarke
December 7, 2009, 10:42 am
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A great article from the UK Sunday Telegraph

Paul Ackford: What did the autumn internationals show us?
As New Zealand, the last of the European visitors, head for home and the beach, five observations on a turbulent five weeks of international action.

The result is all in the empowerment

Two cameos before England’s encounter with New Zealand: In the black corner, Steve Hansen, the All Blacks backs coach, 30 minutes before kick off, leaning against the posts making a call on his mobile phone while his charges went through their repertoire unsupervised.

At the same time, in the white corner, at the other end of the Twickenham pitch, England had three coaches on the go, all hustle and bustle, with players running this way and that. What was it Dylan Hartley, England’s hooker, said this week?

“I don’t feel I’m playing my best rugby for England. Some of it might be down to a fear of failure, a case of not being able to relax and not wanting to go outside of the system.”

When in doubt get it out

The preamble before Ireland’s home games is as drawn out as anywhere in the world, what with the anthems, Ireland’s Call, and President Mary McAleese meeting and greeting the two teams, plus match officials. So how did Jamie Heaslip, Ireland’s No 8, prepare for the long wait in the numbing cold?

By running out in shorts and short-sleeved shirt, biceps bulging, as the Springboks ambled on to the pitch wrapped up in tracksuits. As a statement of aggressive intent, Heaslip’s gesture was more potent than the most ferocious Haka.

Let’s hear it for the grunters

For all the discussion about the chaos at the breakdown, one facet of the game made a welcome comeback. The scrummage. England’s was far better than most feared given their lack of first-choice props.

France showed that front-five forwards need to make tackles as well as shove. Australia and Matt Giteau demonstrated how good they could be when they have a respectable scrum. And Ireland are still searching for one.

Some things never change

The current generation of players are quicker, more athletic, more capable than any that has preceded them. They are asked to operate in an environment which is more hostile, more complex, and more demanding. Yet there remains a common thread which connects rugby players through the ages.

The best forwards are still markedly inferior to the worst backs when they get the ball in space. The big guys should stick to ball-production, the slightly less-big guys to doing something interesting with it when they get it.

Make of it what you will

There have been around 20 major Test matches all over Europe this autumn and about 20 zillion articles, conversations and discussions trying to make sense of them. Only one truth has emerged.

As the debate still rages over whether England and France have actually improved or are treading water, whether Australia are the world champs in waiting, whether the Boks are in free fall, whether Andy Robinson has got a handle on Scotland, whether Warren Gatland will continue to talk a better game than the one he conjures from his players, and whether Ireland really can sustain an assault on a World Cup.

There is absolutely no argument that virtually all the entertainment has been provided by the boys from the southern hemisphere.

Better Rugby Coaching