Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


“Sublime try” by David Clarke
October 11, 2010, 10:54 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Skills | Tags: , , ,


The Heineken Cup produced some epic performances over the weekend. One such performance was from the Welsh team, the Llanelli Scarlets. As the game unfolded, I was marvelling at the handling of their French opponents, Perpignan.

Then, Josh Turnbull turns over the French lineout, pops out the ball and the rest…well watch the tape.

These are top rugby skills at their best. All the passing is before contact. The lines of running create holes, the speed of run hold defenders and the try scorer passes the ball in the move before being in place to receive the final pass: support, handling, footwork, decision making, communication. All core skills that need to be practised in game situations.

This is not from the training ground this is from the training pitch. You cannot create this from running around cones or using tackle pads.

This is the joy of sport and the joy of rugby!

Better Rugby Coaching



Creating 2 v 1s in the Currie Cup by David Clarke


Here are two examples of how the Golden Lions and then the Blue Bulls create a 2 v 1 from potentially a 3 v 2 situation.

Look in at 0:45 and 1:55.

It is simple, effective and leads to tries.

Better Rugby Coaching



You can score backs tries from lineouts by David Clarke


It is often said that defence wins rugby games. South Africa’s win against Australia this weekend in the Tri Nations goes along way to prove that point.

Ironically, Australia scored more tries, but they could not break the Springbok defensive stranglehold. There was simply no room for the Aussies, and they made handling errors, gave away penalities and had three yellow cards. The Springboks played a terrority game, kicking into the corners and pressurising the Australians into running out towards an agressive defensive line.

However, there was a good example of how teams can score tries from first phase lineout ball. Against the much vaunted South African lineout defence, throwing to anywhere but the front of lineout can mean lost ball. Front ball is not such good attacking ball.

BUtthe Wallabies did throw to the front. Instead of passing straight out to the backs, 9 passed to 7 (George Smith) who had dropped off the back of the lineout. He attacked the backline, acting as a sort of 9 and a half. Using a simple backs move to hold the midfield, the ball was spun out to allow a one-on-one for the full back. His momentum and good footwork took him over the line. Watch in the first few minutes of this clip.



Fix a defender to score tries by David Clarke
July 20, 2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills | Tags: , ,

Lots of things could be picked out from the first Tri Nations match of 2009 between the All Blacks and Australia.

However, there was one thing that struck me about the first try, scored by the Wallabies.

Berrick Barnes, the eventual scorer, was allowed the space to break the line because the previous player had “fixed” the defender. He stepped in with the pass, drew two defenders, and released Barnes through the gap. And the player in question was a hooker!

It is not seen enough in the game, even at the top level where a number of the Lions players were guilty of drifting with the pass, and eating up the space for others.

Better Rugby Coaching



Practise scoring tries by David Clarke

good technique

When Jacque Fourie went over for the South African’s third try, he exhibited good technique:
1. He drives low for the line.
2. He holds the ball in the outside arm.
3. He keeps his neck in a neutral position, with his core tensed. His legs are straight and toes pointed.

I don’t know his training routines, but I doubt that he has been coaching explicitly to do all these things to score a try. He has probably worked some of them out for himself, like the outside arm for the ball (though it is right arm, so that might be just luck).

How often has he practised diving for the line? Our kickers spend ours in front of the posts practising. By that token our try scorers should be doing at least a small percentage of this work.

Here is a Smart Session for scoring tries, which might help.
Better Rugby Coaching



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



Should we encourage try celebrations? by David Clarke

I am pondering on whether I am a grumpy old rugby coach when I tell off my players for celebrating their tries with whoops and high fives.

Of course, now I remember, I used to do it myself when I scored tries once upon a time . No one told me off then , though I did get a bit of stick and a few funny looks.

My view is that the scores against the opposition should be “celebrated” with respect. Show you are happy, but don’t wind them up too much.

On the other hand if you have been in the papers during the week then you might want to prove a point. I wonder if Shaun Edwards said anything to Danny Cipriani and Josh Lewsey after this celebration?