Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Another ruck technique drill by David Clarke
December 1, 2010, 9:54 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Drills | Tags: , ,

Simple ruck cleanout drill, with solutions to different defender arm positions.

You can set these up in threes, with two players working, and one player observing and coaching.

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Top flanker cleanout drill by David Clarke
November 29, 2010, 10:06 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Drills | Tags: , , , ,

A very simple rucking drill from George Smith, posted on the eliterugbycoaching Youtube page.

Easy to set up and observe, so you can concentrate on the developing the key points of the ruck cleanout.

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George Smith masterclass by David Clarke

A clip of the great Aussie flanker explaining some of his technqiues.

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Day sixteen of August pre season training: contact training by David Clarke

August 16

Contact training

Like tackling, you need to make a decision when to add more physical intensity to your training at pre season. And like for tackling, the earlier the better. It does not need to be full bone-on-bone sessions. Better to build up the contact “shapes”, focusing on low intensity techniques.

Here are five ways to “build” contact intensity.
1. Play contact rugby in an extremely small area. Say five v five in a five metre channel.
2. Use tackle shields held low to the ground to help players work on ground contact and ball placement skills.
3. Play kneeling rugby, where players move whilst on their knees. A tackle is defined as the hips of the ball carrier touching the ground.
4. Practise the last step before contact, without the run up. The ball carrier has to be in the right body position, or the ruck clearer low and ready to drive out the threat.
5. Allow grab tackles in touch rugby, or grabbing for the ball.

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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.

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Turnover ball must be wiped out by David Clarke

Juan de Jongh dives in for a debut try for South Africa this weekend. It was a close game, with the Boks beating Wales 34-31.

Neither team were at full strength. And that is in physical terms as much as player availability.

The difference between the two teams was clear though: accuracy of execution. Despite some flashes of magic and never-say-die endeavour from Wales, they simply made more mistakes than their opponents.

South Africa won turnovers in the set piece and in the contact area. Gary Gold, writing in his blogs and on has made no secret of the deisre for turnover ball. Turnovers happen because the side in possession are inaccurate in the contact area or with their handling. South African Super 14 teams have forced turnover situations this season and are very adept at creating the opportunity to steal the ball.

Here are the key areas to work on to reduce turnover ball:
1. Stay on the feet in contact and keep going forward.
2. Fighting the last few inches to the ground to make sure the defence has less time to compete for the ball.
3. Isolation is the fault of the support players. Some might say that the ball carrier needs to go back to his support. Actually he needs to seek space, and if he has to take contact, then he fights until the support arrives. Support players must read one step ahead of the ball carrier and be there.

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Interesting tackling equipment by David Clarke
May 6, 2010, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, rugby defence | Tags: , ,

Could be useful!?

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New ruck laws drill by David Clarke

With the ruck law interpretations favouring the ball team, here is a great drill from the Western Force coaching team to work on ball placement and clearing out.

Look out for top articles from Paddy O’Brien on the rulings, plus Mark Calverley on the “End of the Jackler” in the new International Rugby Coaching magazine.

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New style refereeing for a fairer contest? by David Clarke
March 31, 2010, 9:44 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , , , , , ,

Writing in this month’s International Rugby Coaching, Paddy O’Brien, the IRB referee supremo, believes that rugby will be back to its old ways of a fairer contest.

He identifies five areas where he has got his referees to work harder at applying the law:
1. The maul at the lineout: no blocking.
2. Offside at the ruck.
3. Rolling away from the tackled played and/or releasing him to play the ball.
4. Better scrum engagement.
5. Keeping onside from the kicks.

Early evidence suggests that there is more space for attacking teams, but they are still adapting to the new regimes. Referees too are making a slight transition. The laws are not new, just being more heavily emphasised.

As Paddy says, one metre or one second of extra space and time can make all the difference in the game of rugby.

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More on rucking by David Clarke

Here is what Stephen Jones, a Smart Session user and main rugby writer for Sunday Times has to comment on the matter.


Stephen Jones debates the biggest issues in rugby union in his weekly e-mail

Wednesday, January 6, 2010. 1630 BST

Brendan Venter, the Saracens coach, had the air of a man on a mission as he took his seat in the media room at Vicarage Road last Saturday evening. His breathtaking 40-minute assault on the mess of the laws at the breakdown, the random interpretations, the frustrations, the lack of incentive for teams to attack – all of it was perfectly judged.

Frankly, I cannot bring myself to condemn him because his verbals were not contained in some hoary procedure laid down by the Rugby Football Union. Why should such matters be contained behind closed doors when they affect so many tens of thousands of people who form the paying and watching public? Are we supposed to banish from the debate the 14,000 people who went to watch the Saracens-Leicester match and witnessed such sporting poverty?

But as the debate rages on, let’s just take aim at one of Venter’s targets. Never mind about demanding that coaches shut up. What about demanding that referees shut up too? Venter savaged the fact that every player killing the play at the breakdown gets too many chances.

Under the guise of communication and preventative refereeing, the official issues a final warning – number one, roll away; number two, hands off the ball; number three, back onside. It is only if the offender refuses to comply with the referee’s instructions that he may be penalised. I recall one appalling case when a Munster forward was killing a ruck in a match against Clermont Auvergne and the official told the forward five times (repeat, five times) to roll away.

As Venter says, once the ball has been killed for just a second, even if the miscreant reacts to the referee’s warning, the ball has been slowed down and the defence is back in position.

Just as an experiment, why don’t refereeing officials tell their men to wrap up and to penalise the offence, without warning, as soon as it is committed. To hell with preventative refereeing, it is a cheats’ charter.

Referees, this is your final warning!

Brendan’s anguish

Here are the top five complaints contained in Brendan Venter’s assault on refereeing and the laws of the game, made last weekend (due to a space shortage, we have only been able to include a fraction of his complaints!)

1 . The lottery at the breakdown – Venter’s view, understandably, is that, instead of consistent refereeing we get a random and even alternate series of penalties, with referees choosing one from around 27 offences.

2 . Refereeing officials often agree with the coaches, not the referees. Venter revealed that, on at least two occasions this season when he has complained about refereeing of Saracens matches, he has been visited by officials from Twickenham, who have agreed that he had grounds for complaint.

3 . Venter believes, again quite correctly, that the incessant barking and shouting from referees to try to stop players offending is in fact a blatant cheats’ charter, giving all the killers of the ball two opportunities to desist.

4. He believes that the problem is chiefly an English one and that there is more consistency in the Super 14. Here, we can safely and completely part company with him, as all the problems he outlined are very much universal.

5 . He says that referees are not attentive enough to their duties in preparing for games. “We would study the last five games of our opponents,” he says. “So why should referees not be expected to watch at least the last three games that the two teams have played before they come along?”

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