Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Are you ever tongued tied before a rugby talk? by David Clarke

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you are nervous. Perhaps you are going to talk to a senior figure in coaching or be at a function with famous players or simply meeting a group of players you have not met before.

Some coaches will just “talk”. Others will struggle to find the right words.

Here are some approaches to ease yourself into the situation and finish off confident of a good outcome.

1. Start with just smiling.
What do you feel if somebody smiles at you? if you the same thing, they will feel as you too. A smile can break the situation and make everyone feel better.
2. Just talk about simple thing that it is not directly related to the situation.
It may be about current topic, the weather, your journey. Ask them about their journeys or health. For instance, “You look well”.
3. Give respect to what others say and try to listen carefully.
Your body language will open up and put everyone at ease.
4. Introduce your self and try to explain what you are interested in.
5. Avoid talking any serious business straightaway.
Make sure that other trust you as a person.
6. Show that you are a serious person.
Don’t be flippant or offhand in the way you treat individuals or subjects. It is better to be complimentary and respectful.
7. Say good bye and leave with positive words.
A simple thank you can be good enough. A formal end to the conversation again shows respect. “Please excuse me” is enough if you are moving only a short distance away.

Better Rugby Coaching

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Using the haka in your pre match warm up by David Clarke
October 22, 2008, 9:05 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: , , ,

In the latest Rugby Coach Newsletter I have taken some of the best minds and practices to give you an excellent template for a warm up.

For some teams the warm up is the precursor to their “war dance” or haka.

Sometimes it can give an added edge or not.

What do you think?



Your help needed: What can we offer in terms of rugby coaching expertise to this video? by David Clarke

An enterprising rugby place kicker has posted a video of himself on Youtube wanting some advice on how to improve his rugby goal kicking.

He has used two static positions to place the camera, plus some slow motion footage. It is a refreshing approach, and one used by rugby skills coaches to help isolate technical faults.

Coaching rugby goal kicking is a tricky business because there is more than one way to strike a good kick. Also a good rugby goal kicker in matches requires mental strength.

But in this video, what can we offer in terms of rugby coaching expertise?

Here is a checklist to start with:

Is there a good rhythm? Does the kicker look comfortable when he strikes the ball?
Does the foot follow through to the target or cut across the rugby ball?
Does the landing foot allow the kicker to strike the ball on the up stroke of the swing of the leg?

You are the rugby coach…what do you think?

And remember – we don’t to give the goal kicker too many thoughts. One or two is enough for this rugby session.

Dan Cottrell, Better Rugby Coaching Editor



Channel your energy by David Clarke

Once upon a time while in discussion about our wonderful game of rugby, a “non-believer” couldn’t see the point of continuously running across the field to a breakdown. Why not? Because on arriving at there, you simply see the ball go back in the opposite direction, so you have to run to where you have come from.

Of course, I defended the nature of our game to the hilt, but in the cold light of the day and many years of thinking about it, I think the “non- believer” could have had a valued point. And that this has broad implications for rugby coaching at a grass roots level.

One of my pastimes in the name of research for rugby conditioning is noting how long into the game it takes the front row, then the second row and then, dare I say, the back row to start walking following a set piece. This “research” is only carried out at grassroots and lower league games, as the higher the standard you go the more physically impossible it is due to the speed of the game to be everywhere, even back rows.

Nick Tatalias, a rugby coach specialising in contact conditioning, has an interesting theory about this. Quoting from an article by him:

“The players seen standing on the fringes of the rucks and mauls with hands on knees breathing hard are tired because they are recruiting a much higher percentage of their muscles in each encounter than the opposition players.”

He goes on to say that typically the conditioning coach sees this happening and prescribes more aerobic type conditioning, but that this further exacerbates the problem.

What Nick is saying is that if you are using nearly all your strength in the scrum, there’s nothing left in the tank for work around the field. So he prescribes that greater levels of strength are needed, better anaerobic conditioning and lastly sprint endurance.

But what about the social rugby XVs that are pulled together each weekend? To them the mere mention of training is a swear word.

Well help is at hand for you to conserve even more energy and put an end to running across the pitch only to see the ball move away in the distance. This can be done in various ways to best suit your team but basically it’s like this. Instead of having your forwards trundling or walking across the pitch to the breakdown, but really only getting in the way of the backs, have them stay in channels after a set piece, working up and down the pitch as opposed to across it.

For instance, and depending on who’s attacking or defending, have your front and second rows stand near to or behind or in front of the centres and wings, leaving your back row to cover the entire field. Or split your pack down the middle and have them work the left and right sides of the pitch, depending on their scrum positions. The variations are endless and you could chop and change during the match to suit attack or defence, making the opposition even more confused.

The advantages of this system, I believe, are that it allows for:

• On the shoulder support for offloading the ball in the tackle, getting players into gaps.

• Doubling up in defence, allowing for two man tackles.

• Mini rucks, ensuring you get quicker ball.

• Secure, quicker ball at the breakdown, as your players get there first.

• More of your players to defend in midfield, giving the opposition less options in attack.

• More of your players to attack in midfield, offering you more overlap opportunities.

• More of your players to cover when a team mate is out of position following a move.

You might be thinking what if the opposition use a rolling maul and you haven’t got sufficient numbers to counteract?

Well rolling mauls are hard to stop once they get going and need to be stopped on the outset. However, with the experimental laws (ELVs) being trailed you could soon be able to collapse a maul anyway.

Colin Astley, www.inno-rugby.co.uk