Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Wales coach Gatland on international management by David Clarke
November 12, 2010, 9:31 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , , ,

This is an excellent insight into the modern coaching methods of an international coach. Warren Gatland tells a leadership training site ( how he approaches his players. Like many coaches of the top teams, he says he is surprisingly hands off. He wants the players to make the decisions – he wants to empower them so there is mutual trust.

Listen to his frank interview by going to this website. You have to register, but there is plenty of good management content to view and it is free.

Better Rugby Coaching

International Rugby Coaching contributors move up the international coaching pathway by David Clarke

Congratulations to seven International Rugby Coaching contributors on their appointments within 2010/11 Welsh International Pathway teams.

In this line up there are six current writers in the list, plus Rob Appleyard coming up in the next few months!

Stars against contributors

Wales U18:
Manager – Gethin Watts *
Head Coach – Gruff Rees *
Assistant Coach Forwards – Dale McIntosh *

Wales U20:
Manager – Mark Taylor
Head coach – Darren Edwards * Dragons
Assistant Coach – Richard Webster

Manager – David Jenkins
Head Coach – Paul John *

Skills coaching support group:
Gruff Rees *, Paul John * – backs skills; Andrew Millward * – front five; Rob Appleyard *– defence.

Better Rugby Coaching

The Lions do England a favour by David Clarke

The Lions badge
In all the excitement of the Lions announcements, plus all the usual “emotional” guff about bonding and self discovery, the England international management must be pretty pleased.

To go on a Lions tour is very special. For the individual. It will be an amazing experience, but it is unlikely to make them much better players.

It is not good news from a rest and recuperiation point of view. These players are coming off a long season to face one of the strongest club nations in the world, where little quarter is offered. It is not what the doctor, and the countless physios, ordered.

Looking at the England group going away, three are unlikely to play a part in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Worsley, Vickery and Shaw (so old I played with him at Bristol!) are in their twilight years. Of the others, England will be looking to wrap Flutey in cotton wool, and perhaps Sheridan if they can find enough.

The England players not going, can rest, go on the national tour and start the new season a month ahead of their contemporaries. They will be even more determined to fight their corners when Six Nations time comes around again.

The Irish contingent is interesting because of the average age gap between forwards and backs. Many of the Irish forwards are at the back end of their careers along with Brian O’Driscoll. This could stretch these fine players physically.

Wales should be most worried. They underperformed in the Six Nations. Their coaching staff and players are away from the rebuilding process for at least three months. Several of their crown jewels are not 100% fit now, so need to time to recover. Make a diary note to see how many of the thirteen players are fit for the autumn internationals.

So it is the best of times and the worst of times, depending on whose interests you have at heart. The incoming Scottish coach might be secretly the best pleased!

Better Rugby Coaching

Rugby selection processes are random by David Clarke

Yesterday I was involved in the start of the selection process for the Osprey Under 16 squad for the season of 2009/10.

It is not actually the start because the wider process has been going on for months. Players have gone through “district” trials and systems, come to training evenings and days and filled in forms to tell us their position, favourite players and all sorts of other things.

They will play in a trial in week or so’s time where approximately 90 boys will be whittled down to about 50 or so and then eventually by the end of July about 30. All the coaching staff have had quite a lot of contact time with the boys and though many of the names to faces are not there, we certainly know the faces.

The first rugby trial will confirm many things and perhaps add some others. The game will be videoed and the group of 50 (the number is not exact because we would prefer to include than exclude) will be chosen by a large group of coaches who have watched the games or coached the boys at district level.

This new group will train for about two months, followed by some more trial games, where the final squad will be chosen.

I would think that few players would slip through the net. Of course there are some injuries along the way. The length of the process should get around this.

Pretty comprehensive.

And then I listen to Ryan Jones, Wales captain and probably a Lions tourist this summer talking to some Under 13s at a Easter training camp. “I didn’t start playing until I was over 16” he says.

Should we bother then?

Better Rugby Coaching

The end of a level 1 rugby coaching course by David Clarke
March 2, 2009, 9:03 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: , , ,

The end of a coaching course is a new coaching dawn for many coaches. They come out of the course invigorated and ready for action.

And so they should.

The level 1 course is a must for any aspiring coach whether they have played international rugby or just put on their tracksuit for the first time to coach their child’s team.

I have just finished tutoring a course in South West Wales. I had six coaches in my group, all with a huge variety of backgrounds and ages. There was no variety in effort and enthusiasm though. It was, as it always is, refreshing to have such a positive attitude to learning, self-improvement and problem solving.

I was being assessed as well. All the “coach educators” are internally verified to help us deliver more effectively.

If anyone is venturing onto a level one course in the next few weeks, here are a few top tips beforehand:
1. Get plenty of sleep – they are long days, though they fly by.
2. Don’t worry about your rugby background.
3. Get stuck in to all the activities – push yourself, challenge yourself.
4. Be prepared to change your way of thinking.

Better Rugby Coaching

All Blacks coach’s journey by David Clarke

Alun Carter, the former Welsh international performance analyst, gives us an inside view on Steve Hansen when he was coaching Wales from 2002 to 2004.

Hansen, now the forwards coach for the All Blacks, took over from Graham Henry and saw Wales run some of the big sides close. His team almost beat the All Blacks in 2003 World Cup and arguably started the momentum for Mike Ruddock’s team to take the Grand Slam 2005.

Alun Carter’s interview is quite revealing on how coaches can influence a team for better and for worse.

Lions XV v the Rest of the World XV by David Clarke
November 5, 2008, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , , , ,

The Autumn Internationals will gives us a glimpse of the world’s best outside the World Cup arena and a chance to pick the best two XVs. With no American players (North or South) on display, we will have to ignore them for this exercise.

I will select my own world XV after this weekend, but the Lions on form and starting for their country this weekend would be:

15. Lee Bryne (Wales)

14. Sean Lamont (Scotland)

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

12. Gavin Henson (Wales)

11. Shane Williams (Wales)

10. Danny Cipriani (England)

9. Danny Care (England)

1. Andrew Sheridan (England)

2. Jerry Flannery (Ireland)

3. Matt Stevens (England)

4. Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

6. Tom Croft (England)

7. Tom Rees (England)

8. Ryan Jones (Wales)

J’Accuse YOU by David Clarke

Let me start with some good news in rugby coaching.


With all the appointments for the new season flying around, internationally and domestically, perhaps one great appointment has gone under the radar.


One of Better Rugby Coaching’s editorial advisory board, John Schropfer, has been made the new national coach development manager for the Welsh Rugby Union. The role means searching out and nurturing the best coaching talent in Wales, so the next Welsh coach is indeed Welsh. 


John is one of the prime movers in the UK coaching development circles and a key part of the coaching courses produced for Welsh, English and Scottish coaches. His energy and vision will invigorate the development process in the Principality.


Coaching development has been ignored for too long


Coach development has long been overlooked by the most important people in rugby.

  Continue reading