Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

National loyalties are a tough rugby call by David Clarke
March 19, 2009, 11:30 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell | Tags: , , ,

It has been a real rugby feast for me in the last couple of days and there is more to come. I suppose I am in a job where rugby is pretty much a daily occurence, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Yesterday I was at a tournament for Under 11s run by the local police force as part their community programme. Great fun, though I would personally prefer to have a round robin with not all the sides playing each other, so there are no “official” winners. Watching the faces of the players in some of the teams who got knocked out was painful. Also some of the better teams who took larger squads didn’t rotate their players too much in pursuit of the title. At this age, they are not playing to win (see the LTAD or LTPD!)

Last night I caught up on some of the Super 14 rugby. I am halfway through watching the Reds v the Sharks and it is thrilling stuff. I have avoided the final score, so I hope to see the last part tonight. The skills are scintillating.

Of course the England France game was just as exciting if you are English and made up for some turgid if hard fought Saturday Six Nations games. I did shout for joy at the television on Sunday. And I did find the Italy Wales and Scotland Ireland games fascinating.

Actually I have many mixed loyalties for the outcomes.

  • As an Englishman, I want England to win.
  • As a coach who embraces the spirit of using games to teach the skills, then it is the French style I enjoy the most.
  • Having interviewed Frank Hadden for Rugby Coach and seen his approach, I want the Scots to win (their improvement has yet to be reflected in the results).
  • Working in Wales and having a Welsh wife, then it is difficult not to support Wales.
  • Working closely with Jim Love, who is the head coach of one of the top Italian teams, I want to see their progression as a rugby nation.
  • And finally I think the Irish deserve the championship because they are so passionate about the game and bring so many alternatives to the table. I have just spoken to Ken O’Connell who works at the Munster academy and you cannot fail to be enthused to want Emerald Isle to be victorious.

This weekend Wales Women take on Ireland to decide second place in the Championship. Victory for Wales, who I help coach, would mean a Triple Crown. Now there is one game I know who I want to win!
Better Rugby Coaching


The pros and cons of using international games to coach by David Clarke
November 10, 2008, 9:59 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

Can we translate what we see on the TV in international games into meaningful outcomes for our own teams? The simple answer could be no. Especially if you are running an under 8s tag team on a Sunday.


However there are some pros and cons.


Pros of using international games for your coaching


Sometimes international teams will use a move you have not seen before. With small modifications you can this same move for your team.



We all aspire to play for our country or even coach them, and though the moment may have passed many of us by, we can gain much from listening to how the international coaches talk about their teams.


Points of reference

Using international games as examples is an easy way of helping our players visualise what we mean. A particular tackle or defensive alignment means more if the players have seen it performed at the top level.


Cons of using international games for your coaching 


The international teams have so much more time to practise the moves you might see on the TV. You can never have this luxury, so you need to be careful what elements you want to reproduce.


Refereeing differences

The quality of referees at the top level is different. Techniques that work in an international game may not be acceptable at lower levels because the referees are looking at other priorities.



A brilliant move may only work because the teams have the strength, speed and skill to perform them. This also goes for some of the close quarter techniques in rucks. I would especially highlight “sealing” manoeuvres, because the top level players are enormously strong across the shoulders and neck. They can take up very low positions and be far safer from injury that less experienced players.

Rich Pickings from the Feast by David Clarke


A bumper rugby weekend on the international front, with matches in every corner of the world. Full tests in the Southern Hemisphere, an A team tournament, Under 20s World Cup, IRB Nations Cup and the Pacific Nations Cup. Chuck in some women’s sevens and you could easily have sat in front of the television all weekend and not ventured outside.


ELVs or not, there was plenty of scintillating rugby on show, and no sign that international games are turgid, or indeed one-sided affairs.


But we don’t just watch the games for “our team”. We want to take something away with us, a little titbit to take onto the training ground for next week.

Continue reading

The Methods of the World’s Top Rugby Coaches by David Clarke

Here is a fantastic article published this weekend in the South African Independent on Saturday by Peter Bills.

It shows us that the world’s best coaches give the players a lot more freedom to express themselves than previous eras of coaches.

De Villiers, Deans can change rugby

June 07 2008


By Peter Bills


The stagnation of world rugby, a reality confirmed by the recent World Cup and the Six Nations tournaments in the northern hemisphere, could be resolved in 2008’s Tri-Nations Championship.


The arrival of Robbie Deans as the new coach of Australia this week and Peter de Villiers’s innovative hand on the controls in South African rugby, offers the game the opportunity to make overdue progress.


Continue reading