Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Keep the players interested by David Clarke

Here is a good demonstration of how a coach keeps players interested.

The drill itself is easily adapted to rugby training, and could be used for rugby handling, rugby warm ups or rugby footwork.

Better Rugby Coaching

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Out of the gloom, my rugby can prosper by David Clarke
January 18, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Skills | Tags: , , , , , ,

As I look whimsically out of my window at the fog covering the snow capped hills outside Swansea, it is hard to remember a time when one of my teams actually played a game of rugby.

It has been a tough few months in the region, with terrible wet weather in November and December and then a bad cold snap that has covered the whole of the UK.

Amongst the gloom, the excitement of the Six Nations is brightening the rugby land, with players staking their claim to World Cup squad places. It won’t be long before we have Super 14 rugby as well.

But let’s forget thos bright lights for a moment and concentrate on our own rugby. Here are three ways I want my rugby to prosper:

1. Clearer instruction

Any exercise will be understood quicker because I have communicated what I want more effectively. I will pander to all the learning styles.

2. More intensity

I will identify exact moments when exercises and drills will be more intense and make sure that the players respond. Short bursts of high intensity.

3. More fun

Following on from last year, I will introduce more games and competitions into training.

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Now to action it. I can’t wait.

Better Rugby Coaching



Is there any defence of the Auckland grid? by David Clarke

Putting players on four corners of a square is a common form of training set up. In its simplest form, the front player runs across the box, performs a skill and passes the ball to the player on the opposite corner.

It keeps training contained, works on footwork and awareness as well as more specific skills like passing or contact. The coach has good control over the activity and it is easy to set up.

Its exact origins are unknown though it has been commonly known as the “Auckland grid”. There are plenty of variations because the set up has a good base to make adjustments.

A number of coaches don’t like the grid though.

Here are some of those reasons:
1. It makes players run to a fixed point, unlike in the game.
2. Some of the ball transfer encourages forward passes.
3. Queuing is bad for players. It doesn’t happen in the game.

Are these reasons enough to make the Auckland grid not worthwhile?

I don’t use them because I hope I can find better ways to warm up or work on skills.

Better Rugby Coaching



Rugby preseason might need a new approach by David Clarke
July 16, 2009, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: ,

In Europe, coaches are focusing on their preseason programmes. In the Southern Hemisphere, many teams are mid season. The rugby season never closes around the world (or perhaps even sleeps!)

One idea that has started making the rounds is that preseason training should cover less and focus on individual rather than team needs. Therefore a 90 minute session might have lots of different sessions going on with say some players working on sprinting, others on aerobic fitness, maybe some on passing.

This makes sense in some ways, because some teams never get everyone together for preseason because of holidays and other commitments. The onus on the coach is to identify these weaknesses with the players and devise methods of coaching it.

Much easier if you have a team of coaches of course, but there is an opportunity to use peer coaching which gives the added the benefits of empowerment.

A hybrid solution would be to do both, with half the session having a team, the rest of the time spent on individual needs.

Better Rugby Coaching



The five best sports to learn from (3) by David Clarke

Greco-Roman wrestling

In the January 2008 edition of Rugby Coach I explained how Greco-Roman wrestling could be used in rugby training. Here are the reasons for using it in your training.

3. Greco-Roman wrestling

Fitness. A minute bout of wrestling is tiring and closely related to rucking, mauling and scrummaging in terms of the type of physical activity used. Try six rounds with your team over a period of ten minutes.

Conditioning. The methods used in Greco-Roman wrestling use similar muscle groups to those in the contact area.

Techniques. Body positions and grips can be replicated in rugby.

Mind. The domination of an opponent requires mental as well as physical prowess.

Discipline. It is not the angry wrestler that wins the contest, but the one who controls their aggression through strength and technique. Poor technique in a moment of madness can lead to penalties and misdirected moves, very much like rugby.

On Monday, I will look at golf.