Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Turnover ball must be wiped out by David Clarke

Juan de Jongh dives in for a debut try for South Africa this weekend. It was a close game, with the Boks beating Wales 34-31.

Neither team were at full strength. And that is in physical terms as much as player availability.

The difference between the two teams was clear though: accuracy of execution. Despite some flashes of magic and never-say-die endeavour from Wales, they simply made more mistakes than their opponents.

South Africa won turnovers in the set piece and in the contact area. Gary Gold, writing in his blogs and on has made no secret of the deisre for turnover ball. Turnovers happen because the side in possession are inaccurate in the contact area or with their handling. South African Super 14 teams have forced turnover situations this season and are very adept at creating the opportunity to steal the ball.

Here are the key areas to work on to reduce turnover ball:
1. Stay on the feet in contact and keep going forward.
2. Fighting the last few inches to the ground to make sure the defence has less time to compete for the ball.
3. Isolation is the fault of the support players. Some might say that the ball carrier needs to go back to his support. Actually he needs to seek space, and if he has to take contact, then he fights until the support arrives. Support players must read one step ahead of the ball carrier and be there.

Better Rugby Coaching

Turning defence into attack by David Clarke

Here is an exercise I use to get rugby players to think quickly about changing roles, from defending to attacking or the other way round.

The video clip shows a fairly low intensity start to the rugby session, where is there is plenty of feedback on what to do and how to do it. I asked the players to offer the solutions, emphasising the need to push and pull defenders with angles and footwork before contact.

Also, when making the transition, the attacker should accelerate into the gaps, not waiting for supporters, otherwise the defence can quickly reorganise.

This was the first time these boys had used this exercise, but they were a skilful bunch of u18 club players. Subsequently, one has become an academy player (the Ospreys) and four have signed for local semi-professional sides. The rugby drill can be run for levels of player though and I have used it from u10 upwards.