Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Play, joue, go for it by David Clarke

Just play the game. “Joue” as the French would say.

Too many times players come to rugby training to “play rugby” and yet go away from a session with a five minute game at the end as a “reward”.

I gauge a good “junior” session by the amount of times the youngsters say to me: “When can we play a game?” The less the better!

With my Under 9s team, we start our sessions with a game, then another, do some skills and then play another game. The games at the start have some conditions, such as the types of pass used, or the size of the pitch. The skills might be extremely modified games and the game at the end is as close to the real game as we can with the numbers we have.

The challenges are:

1. Covering the full range of techniques correctly. Actually the games tend to use most of the skills, so modifying the game allows us to isolate some of the skills and yet keep them in some context.

2. Keeping all the players involved. Certainly at younger age groups one or two players can dominate. We have moved players around the teams, played smaller sided games or just removed the players if they become too greedy.

3. Personal feedback. In a game situation, with so much going on, specific feedback can be lost as the ball moves on. We are lucky to have three coaches, one who referees, one on the pitch as the game is played and the other stands back to look at the wider picture. From these positions, we observe different angles, say things from different persepctives and the coach who is standing back can offer something to the player the two coaches too close to the action cannot see.

I wonder whether this model can be used for more senior teams…

A new rugby tactic for the weekend by David Clarke

I am working with the Welsh Women’s squad this weekend in Cardiff. I have been allocated a number of sessions to work on rugby skills, techniques and tactics, based on their game plan.


Of course I am not going to tell what the tactics are, but it has led me to check the Better Rugby Coaching archive for the words “rugby tactics”. I put in rugby tactics, but then thought, this is a rugby site anyway, so I changed it to just “tactics” and I got over 40 articles.


Here are the results.


Better Rugby Coaching search for "rugby tactics"


What is my new tactic for the weekend


When receiving a kick off deep in the 22m area, there are normally two options. Secure and kick for touch or long down the side of the pitch, OR secure, run open and either kick long or go for the break.


Struth! That’s four tactics already.


So here is the next one. It is a variation on one of themes.


Secure the ball. Take the ball towards the touchline, but not over the 5m line. From the breakdown, pass the ball behind the forwards waiting to take a short ball to the fly half, who passes it to the inside centre (12). That should give enough space for this player to take the ball forward, kick over the defence and for the outside centre, winger and blindside winger to follow up. The defence will be expecting the kick, will be spread further across the pitch. Risk and reward…what do you think?



A good rugby coach can be a lazy coach by David Clarke


I am tired. But I am also excited. It has been a busy few days pulling together some thrilling projects at Better Rugby Coaching. Lots of travelling, meetings and sorting. It is my eldest son’s 12th birthday today as well, so an early rise this morning.


As I yawn, it reminded me that, like many coaches, I will sometimes arrive at training sessions tired from all the other things I have to do. I would not want to take any shortcuts in my rugby coaching. It would pain me not to put in 100% effort into the rugby training exercises I have pulled together for that evening’s session.


Yet this effort, the huff and puff, the energy expended on behalf of others can be misplaced.


Look at this quote: 

“Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things”

Robert A. Heinlein American science-fiction Writer, 1907-1988

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What Everyone Ought to Know about a Bad Drill by David Clarke


I watched three different rugby sessions today.


And I cheated.


All the sessions were all online. Two were from Youtube and one was from an email I got sent by a rugby coaching business. As you know, I am a magpie for all things to do with rugby coaching, so I looked at them carefully. I came to one unfortunate conclusion.


But before I tell what the conclusion is, I want to tell you about something I observed last night at another training session.

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