Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Simple truths still win rugby games by David Clarke

An international delight of rugby this weekend!

I must say the game that caught my imagination was the Super 14 final between South Africa’s Blue Bulls and New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs. I know that the rules are achanging, but once again the pace the game is played at is quite breathtaking. The Bulls blew away the Chiefs in the end 61-17.

Here are my thoughts on the key elements, and beware the Lions, because the Blue Bulls had some key test players.

1. Play with width, but come from depth
You can spread the ball across the field, but the ball carriers must interest the defenders with their pace onto the ball and some straight running, however far away the defence is. Both teams spread it wide, but only one team attacked with speed, the Bulls.
2. You must win your set piece cleanly
The Bulls were masters of disrupting the lineout. This led to the Chiefs throwing risky throws. Lineout defence is therefore crucial. The scrums were more solid for the both sides, but again a significant “charge” was made when the Chiefs needed good ball. Good first phase allows teams to develop patterns of play. Defences will have the upper hand otherwise.
3. Sealing is dead
A sealing play stops at the ball and scrum half finds it more difficult to clear the pass. At Super 14, it is more likely that the player “falls” beyond the ball. They key is: keeping the ball clean and if the ball is sealed, then the attacking side will create quick ball. Teams that coach sealing next year will not progress.
4. You must vary your point of attack from 2nd phase
Both sides passed the ball from the base of the ruck close, wide, off 9, and off 10 to keep the defences guessing. This created defensive gaps around 10 and then around 13. Teams cannot cover the whole pitch.

Simple truths we must continue to remember.

And mauling is back! The Lions and the Royal XV benefitted from the return to mauling. More on that as the week goes on.

Better Rugby Coaching

Understanding the laws at the tackle area by David Clarke
May 6, 2009, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs | Tags: , , ,

Here is an excellent video from the US Rugby coaching newsletter.

Many thanks to Jen Gray for allowing me to post this piece.

USA Tackle Video
It is often difficult to safely and effectively coach a tackle, especially to new players of the game. However, if coaches had more insight as to what the Referee’s will be looking for on the pitch, then your team would have an advantage. Check out the helpful link below!

To attain better consistency at the tackle, USA Rugby Referee Management have put together 20 minutes of 40 clips (all 2009 RSL matches), covering most aspects of the tackle and ruck– what is allowed and what should not be allowed. Also included, are recommendations for unplayables – understand that a quick unplayable is a key tool to communicate a message to players.(Note: an unplayable is when a player falls over the ball and makes it unplayable to either side. Sanction a penalty kick.) Link to the video is here:

Better Rugby Coaching

Sealing and bridging: profit and loss by David Clarke


Last week I posted the IRB reminders on the interpretation of the law about “bridging and sealing”. It is not explicitly stated in the law book but here are the rough definitions:


Bridging: forming a bridge with your legs or knees and hands or elbows over the ball.

Sealing: securing yourself to the tackled player, preventing the opposition grabbing the ball and if driven back, taking the tackled player and ball with you.


Since, in the spirit of the game, players are meant to stay on their feet, any attempt by players who are not on their feet to prevent the ball being contested is illegal.


Market forces have prevailed though. Coaches and players are always seeking ways to profit from the laws.

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Teams losing their feet over old law by David Clarke

Sealing and bridging is confirmed as illegal. This month referees were told to be more vigilant in the tackle contest area and lots of teams struggled.


This is mainly because of poor technique in the contact area. Players go off their feet because they are not balanced as they arrive and they tend to drive down and not up.


Here is that ruling again, plus a clip of a ruck drill.

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