Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Boring? It’s boom time in the tryless world of Mike Ford and Shaun Edwards by David Clarke

Boring? It’s boom time in the tryless world of Mike Ford and Shaun Edwards

From The Times
December 10, 2009
John Westerby

While much of the rugby world gnashes its teeth at the shortage of tries that is blighting the game, there is one group of people who may be forgiven a wry smile.

For the game’s defence coaches, the Scrooges whose job it is to stop tries, this could be seen as boom time, with attacking teams consistently struggling to pick a way through carefully constructed defensive systems.

Much of the blame for this season’s sterile rugby has been laid with the new breakdown law, which has denied attacking teams the quick ball they need to prosper. But another common complaint from players is that modern defences have become too strong, that it is harder than ever to find a path to the try-line. So have defence coaches become too good at their jobs?

Leading the case for the defence is Mike Ford, whom Martin Johnson, the England team manager, entrusts with preventing the opposition scoring. Although England scored only one try in three disappointing autumn internationals last month, they conceded only three: two against Australia and one against New Zealand.

“I think the amount of time spent on defence in rugby union is now greater than it has ever been,” Ford said. “When I came into union [from rugby league] with Ireland in 2002, we’d have a team meeting and it was all about attack, nobody would mention defence. In rugby league, defence is the first thing you learn and in training, it’s 50 per cent defence.

“Union has come a long way since then and now, with England, I probably get about a third of training time. A third on attack, a third on defence and a third on the set-piece is about the right split.” Continue reading

Rugby agility drill by David Clarke
July 7, 2009, 7:42 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , , ,

Something from the New Zealand Rugby League community. A footwork and agility drill which works on acceleration, slowing down and then changing direction, based on visual cues.

What showing off can bring to the game by David Clarke

You can’t coach this, but can provide the environment for players to try it out…

It comes from rugby league. It is a kick and chase pattern into the in-goal area. The player can only be successful if the other players have a clue what he might do. As a rugby coach, you can devise games where anything goes. The players will enjoy it and when they are showing off, they might just learn a match turning skill.

Better Rugby Coaching

The five best sports to learn from (2) by David Clarke
January 15, 2009, 10:38 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Training | Tags: , ,


Yesterday Rugby League, today netball! Here is the second sport rugby can learn from…

2. Netball

Netball is an invasion game but with some interesting rules on movement. First, the ball carrier can only take one step, and second, players are restricted on the areas they are allowed to move into.

What are the benefits to rugby from watching and perhaps even playing netball.

Passing and handling. The top players pass the ball into spaces for their team mates to run onto. Though mainly through chest passes, the variety of passes still require quick handling decisions. Also, the ball carrier only has three seconds on the ball, meaning a fast paced game.

Footwork. Though the ball carrier cannot run, the man-to-man marking system requires deft foot work and balance to create opportunities to pass and shoot.

Lineout work. A lot of the game is played with the ball at head height or above. This aids the coordination of lineout jumpers who will practise normal rugby with the ball below shoulder height and little jumping. Leaning to catch and manipulating a ball with one hand are all skills required in netball.

Support play. Netball requires players to pass and move. They need to read their own players movements and the opposition movements to create space and receive a return pass.

Defence. Though there is no contact, defenders still need to maintain a good body shape to defend with, and read the attacking movements. It is a heads up game.

The next sport will be…Greco Roman wrestling.

The five best sports to learn from by David Clarke
January 14, 2009, 9:15 am
Filed under: Rugby Coaching, Rugby Skills | Tags: , , ,

Rugby is an “invasion game” where players gain ground in order to score points. There is a lot of high level thinking on the specific game to read, watch and listen to. However, similar forms of reserch has gone into other sports and coaches often benefit from a sideways glance or study of these games.

Here are my top five sports to learn from.

1. Rugby League

It is no coincidence that there is a good cross fertilization of ideas between the two codes. The more enlightened coaches have not become slaves to League theories on defence and kicking, but have used elements to enhance their coaching.

Learning from rugby league

Rugby League is good for:

  • Footwork
  • Handling
  • Tackling
  • Tackle systems
  • Kicking
  • Fitness
  • Communication
  • Broken play patterns

Some good sites to visit are:

rlcm coaching

Tomorrow I am going to look at the benefits of netball.

Why rugby union will never become rugby league by David Clarke
October 6, 2008, 9:08 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby News | Tags: , , , , ,

A little piece of history was made on Saturday. The Bridgend Ravens beat Neath at the Gnoll for the first time since 1982. A Welsh Premiership match with bags of atmosphere, and a sizeable crowd for a wet and windy Saturday afternoon.


Bridgend are perhaps the least financially secure of a league with bridges the gap between the amateur and professional game in Wales. What makes their position even more precarious is news from the Super League. The Celtic Crusaders have won a franchise into Europe’s top level rugby league competition for 2009 and, for the first time, top class rugby league will be played on the fields of Wales.


Wait. Not the first time, because the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff has seen plenty of rugby league finals and one-offs. But now it will be regular games with all the razzmatazz and raw rugby that top league brings.

Continue reading