Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Very lucky to train on this by David Clarke
October 19, 2009, 7:33 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, International Rugby Journal, Rugby Training | Tags:

This is where I am training the Welsh Women squad this weekend.

Unfortunately, though it is to Millenium Stadium specifications, it does alllow in the rain and wind!

Look out for an excellent article on playing surfaces and training areas by editor, Laurence Gale, in this month’s International Rugby Technical Journal.
Better Rugby Coaching

Level 1 rugby course (day one and two) by David Clarke
February 23, 2009, 10:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

What a rugby coaching weekend. Friday night was the first evening of a Level 1 course as a tutor, Saturday all day, coaching with the Welsh Women’s National Squad and Sunday, the second part of the Level 1.

It has been tiring, but exhilarating. And all those who I have been tutoring will tell you that I have already said the word that I didn’t want to say. More on that later.

Here are some of my reflections.

1. I delivered a presentation on “children in rugby and child protection”. It is more than a “I must listen because it’s my duty” session. Many key points came out which are worth remembering.

For me, it is the amount of contact you can have with the child, and by that I mean physical contact. Running around on the field with them can be dangerous for instance. We also debated holding tackle shields, and physical demonstrations.

2. On Saturday we worked on a number of areas of concern for the Welsh team. The mood was good, given the famous victory the previous weekend against England. However there was a good sense of focus on the coming fixture with France.

A lot of our exercises aimed to improve the intensity of training. One way was to make the players “self correct” as the drills worked through. Instead of lots of stop/start, feedback was on-the-go.

The coach hinted at and identified good and bad play and allowed the players to suggest solutions, as they moved from the end of one attempt to the start of the next. Far more activity and the players were empowered to coach themselves.

3. On Sunday, back on the Level 1 course, the coaches had their first chance to show their “how to coach” skills.

As part of my group, we had to cover warm up, 2 v 1, footwork skills and pass and catch. I did not coach one piece of skill throughout the morning. I showed the group one set up of cones to help the sidestep and that was it.

By questioning, I let them set up and coach all the skills. I was delighted with their response and in the afternoon, their more formal coaching sessions were very good.

What word was I trying not to say (and didn’t do too well at I must admit): “but”. Perhaps someone might like to tell us I was not trying to say “but”?

Better Rugby Coaching

Six Nations rugby still compelling by David Clarke

I have just watched some of the Super 14 rugby from the weekend. Some of it is breathtaking. The speed, power and pace is stunning in parts.

Does this put the Six Nations in the shadows?

The simple answer is no. Top level test rugby, where a whole nation of rugby supporters and press is watching over you tends to make it a vastly different encounter to top level regional rugby. Few can deny the passion of any team playing at their best, but with a nationalistic fevour, the stakes are raised.

The coach’s challenge is harness that desire, keep control and play to a pattern.

I experienced this in its own way on Saturday as attached coach to the Welsh Women. The girls are just as intense as the men about their rugby, just as focused. For the Welsh team, there is a particular passion since they have not ever beaten England at the 15-a-side game .

It was an exhilarating moment, standing in the changing room at half time, with only one score in it and our kicker having missed a sitter only minutes before. I will document the whole story in more detail at another time, because they are so many lessons to be learnt. However what I will say is this: Only the players can win or lose the game, but the coach can give them the belief, the plan, the way to win and the way to find the will to win.

The Welsh Women restarted 15-13 down with three minutes on the clock. The serious of drives and control led to a penalty. The kicker, Non Evans, struck the ball beautiful between the uprights to win the historic game. Many, many coaching sessions and meetings had led to that last three minutes, and I was privileged to be a small part of that process.

Jason Lewis, the head coach, and Rugby Coach writer, should take much praise for the progress of the team. Coaches still make a big difference.

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?



How to take command of a rugby training session by David Clarke

Who is the most difficult audience to deal with?

Here are some factors that can cause you problems:

1. The players are tired.

2. The players have already been “coached” during the day.

3. The players have a low concentration span.

4. The players are not playing at the weekend.

5. The players are young.

And so the list eventually leads to my under 9s team! And having to coach them last night.

Having worked with two groups of elite players in the last few weeks in my roles at U16 backs coach for the Ospreys and now an attached coach with the Welsh Women, a blustering late Wednesday afternoon is a little different on a damp parks pitch.

How did I take command?

With the agreement of the other coaches, after the warm up, we split as usual into three groups, did seven minute segments of skills and then went into a game.

And we shut up! It was hard. We only gave small doses of praise and bit our lips. No shouts of “Pass”, “Tackle”, “Get lower” or “Run straight”.

After each try or big breakdown, we gave some feedback, asked some questions and let them play.

It was strangely eerie. But what it did allow us to watch and observe and reflect. One observation is that we are going to make the teams smaller in practice games to make sure all the players are more involved.

So to take command of a rugby training session, here are two suggestions:

1. Break up the training into manageable segments and the same with the groups.

2. Say less, watch more, intervene effectively.