Everything You Need To Know For Coaching Rugby

With so much to cover when coaching young players, it can be a daunting task to know the basics... now there's help
Dan Cottrell

Anxious about coaching rugby to children? Maybe you’re already coaching, but sometimes struggling to get your points across at training?

Perhaps you sometimes simply run out of preparation time? Possibly you’re feeling your sessions are getting dull?

Do you want a few new skills to boost your player’s skills now? Or to help your players develop the techniques for seasons ahead? Maybe even the core skills for their whole rugby playing career?

Here’s the answer…


I created Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby for new and aspiring coaches of junior players. It is designed to help you build your players’ techniques, skills and understanding of the whole game from ages 8 to 16.

Divided into two parts, part one focuses on the basics of working with young players in a safe and rewarding environment.

Part two contains more than 100 training sessions, games and developments to coach and enhance all the basic skills of rugby union.

The training sessions will take the players’ initial skills to the next stages. The game situations and developments will then allow the coach to revisit the sessions and reinforce the skills a number of times during the season – and then for many seasons to come – whilst ensuring that training remains fresh and relevant.

It is, in fact, entirely possible for a coach to build a whole season’s training around the sessions contained in Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby.

Primarily created to support new coaches, coaches working on or towards their level 1 courses and beyond, and coaches who are covering unfamiliar areas, Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby also provides an excellent resource and fund of ideas for more experienced coaches looking for a fresh approach to their regular sessions.

All coaches can use Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby in conjunction with their own long-term athlete/player development (LTAD) programme. Click here for details.

  • Safety and environment
  • Ethical and legal coaching
  • Coaching children rugby union
  • Coaching through questioning
  • Long-term player development
  • Long-term player development and this Manual

Part 1: Working with young players in a safe and rewarding environment

Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby enables the coach to match the players by their age groups and LTAD stage with the sessions included, to construct an appropriate programme for the players and the team.

Part 2: More than 100 training sessions, game situations and developments to coach all players the basic skills of rugby union

Tackling: This chapter will show you how to coach both how-to-tackle and how-to-be-be-tackled. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Tackling preparation
  • Simple tackling
  • The side on tackle
  • The front on tackle
  • The rear tackle

Handling: This chapter will show you how to coach passing and handling, as well as angles of running to create space. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Passing and catching
  • The lateral pass
  • The spin or “torpedo” pass
  • The switch pass
  • Passing under pressure
  • The clearance pass
  • Simple loops
  • Passing to create space
  • Offloading in contact
  • Handling in a narrow space
  • Handling and communication
  • Picking up the ball
  • Try scorers

Footwork: This chapter will show you how to coach the use of footwork to beat defenders and avoid contact. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • The swerve
  • The side step
  • Improving evasion skills
  • More advanced evasion skills

Kicking: This chapter will show you how to coach kicking, as well as charging down and catching kicks. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • The punt
  • The grubber kick
  • The chip and chase
  • The place kick
  • The drop kick
  • Catching a high ball

The ruck: This chapter will show you how to explain and coach the ruck. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Setting up and joining a ruck
  • Core ruck skills
  • Ruck attack
  • Ruck defence
  • Ruck scan

The maul: This chapter will show you how to explain and coach the maul. The sessions will give you the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Setting up and joining a maul
  • Securing maul ball
  • The driving maul
  • Defending a maul
  • Ruck to maul

The scrum: This chapter will show you how to coach the scrum, from building simple three player units, to creating an eight player scrum. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Scrum basics
  • The three man scrum
  • The five man scrum
  • Building a full scrum

The lineout: This chapter will show you how to coach the lineout, involving jumping, lifting and throwing in. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Lineout jumping
  • Lineout lifting
  • Lineout throw in
  • Lineout catch and drive

Match tactics: This chapter will show you how to coach the basic tactics needed to win matches. The sessions will give you all the information and prompts you need to coach:

  • Attacking channels
  • Second phase ball
  • Converting opportunities

Dramatically improve your team’s performance

The training sessions within Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby are full of fresh new ideas for squads of any size. They are designed to help you engage with your players and develop their core rugby skills…

… the skills they will use throughout their playing “careers”, whether that’s simply for the season ahead or through adulthood.

Each session has a clear objective and should take no more than 5 minutes to set up. This will leave you more time to practise with the players.

Every training session includes these crucial elements:

Clear and powerful objectives. At the beginning of the session, you can tell the players how to achieve these, or tease it out of them as the session goes on. At the end, return to these objectives to see if you’ve reached your goals.

Explanation of how the session will work. Depending on the aim of the session, you’ll see the exercises or moves the players need to practise. You can try them in slow motion until you get the drill right. Then speed it up.

Answers to vital tactical questions. Every session will throw up questions like, “How do I develop this session?”… “How would I put this into a game situation?”… These are all answered for you. In fact each session will prepare you to use what you’ve learned in a full game.

What to call out and what to look for. Apart from the usual words of encouragement, it’s good to shout key instructions to players. I’ll tell you when, how and what to call out for maximum impact. You also need to keep your eyes open for mistakes. I’ll help you identify quickly where players might go wrong so you can quickly put them right.

Game situations and developments. Most sessions include at least one game situation to help you hone your players’ skills and techniques within a competitive, pressured atmosphere.

Ways to get good feedback. Each session gives you the chance to challenge your players and the game situation, either by using feedback or asking yourself the most vital questions.

Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby is a whole year’s worth of coaching in one handy guide:

  • Contains all the training sessions you need to develop your players’ core skills today and for years to come.
  • Will help you overcome your anxieties about coaching children, and the systems and positions you never played yourself.
  • Includes clear instructions and objectives to make your coaching more definite and less ambiguous, whilst offering suggestions about how to involve your players.
  • Will make each coaching session fresh, effective and fun.
  • Will keep your preparation time for sessions to a minimum.
  • Which leaves you time to go out and enjoy the training session!

Ebook, Print, Ebook + Print

21 reviews for Everything You Need To Know For Coaching Rugby

  1. Dr. J. Zimmerman

    Dr. J. Zimmerman

    Having started a youth rugby league in my area, I have found Dan Cottrell’s Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby an invaluable resource.

    Practice planning sessions have been a breeze and I have been able to share the manual’s information with parents to help ease them into coaching.

    In addition, I would be lying if I said, I didn’t use the manual for coaching my men’s club as well.

    – Dr. J. Zimmerman – Jersey Shore Rugby Men’s Club – USA

  2. Mark Lindenberg

    Mark Lindenberg

    Due to injuries I had to stop playing rugby, so I decided to follow my passion and start coaching.

    The problem was I had been out the game for so long I was concerned about even my basic knowledge of all the areas especially.

    My first group of players ranged from 9-13 years old and most of they had never played before! I purchased Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby to make sure that I was confident that I could coach rugby well in all areas.

    After working through the manual I felt 100% confident, it covered everything, was easy to follow and basically in one book was able to ensure you are an asset to any team or individual player. I will be doing my level 2 course in a week but I can promise you that from that manual Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby as well as the other Dan Cotterell manuals purchased, I will be streets ahead of the rest of the coaches there.

    The major benefit is that in one manual you get all the knowledge and experience from top an vastly experienced coach. Lets be honest rugby is a complicated game with many facets and as an ambitious coach I need to have expert knowledge and understanding in all areas.

    I started with Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby because it gave me a full proof plan and covered every basic area and how to teach it, this benefitted both myself as a new coach and my players as they were also new to the game. I had plenty of drills with progressions and knew I was covering all the basic areas to develop them as individual players as well as a team.

    Thanks for a great product and it is money well spent!

    – Mark Lindenberg – South Africa

  3. Bill McDonald

    Bill McDonald

    I can highly recommend Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby, as it has been our bible when it comes to coaching new players.

    The games are easy to explain and execute in practice, which leaves more time or learning and less for talking.

    This season we worked through the manual drill by drill as the progression was perfect learning arc for new players. We have had nothing but positive feedback from the players who tell us that this season’s trainings have been the best ever.

    They are concise, intuitive and more fun than anything we have done in the past. We have been able to take boys who have never seen a game and make competent rugby players out of them in a few short weeks. We have now been able to progress onto the Core and Advanced Skills as Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby has given the boys a great base of knowledge and skill.

    We even mix in the Mini-Games at the beginning of each practice as a warm-up.

    I would recommend not only Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby, but all of Dan’s products as invaluable tools for coaching great rugby.

    – Bill McDonald – Riverside Youth Rugby Football Club – USA

  4. Danny Rossuw

    Danny Rossuw

    This is a must have manual for every new coach and all schools or clubs at junior level must have this as a coaching recourse.

    It will give all new coaches much more confidence when delivering sessions and the players will benefit as they will learn the correct technique right from the start.

    – Danny Rossuw – UK

  5. Ken Rowe

    Ken Rowe

    Dan’s Coaching tips and plan have allowed me to update my coaching skills and provide my lads the opportunity of structured and fun training and coaching sessions.

    – Ken Rowe – UK

  6. Paul Swinden

    Paul Swinden

    Dan Cottrell’s Coach Rugby Manual is excellent, a fantastic coaching resource full of valuable concise drills with useful advice on progression and ways to apply it to game situations.

    The players enjoy the sessions and it helps keep the training fresh and interesting.

    – Paul Swinden – UK

  7. Niall McGee

    Niall McGee

    The manual is very well presented with lots of diagrams to aid the text explanations.

    It is easy to read and understand and all of the drills apply specifically to the game.

    The players I am working with responded very positively to the new drills as there are always something new and innovative in each training session.

    The manual gives an excellent overview of all the skills and tactics in the game of rugby.

    – Niall McGee – Ireland

  8. Ricki Parfitt

    Ricki Parfitt

    I have played rugby all my life and only really helped senior coaches with an odd session here and then, so when my son asked me to start up a U14 team, I thought long and hard as coaching is a different ball game to playing.

    When we started the majority of the players that came along to the training sessions had no or very little experience and as the numbers became larger I found myself looking at different ways to keep them interested, so I purchased the Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby.

    Things slowly started to change as I implemented the techniques from the book into training and the improvements started to take effect on match days.

    The side has gone from losing 60 points plus to achieving a win and several draws over the past weeks. I would put this down to the hard work and determination of the players and the training ethics of the book.

    A fantastic purchase for any new coach.

    – Ricki Parfitt – UK

  9. Richard Knight

    Richard Knight

    This manual is great.

    The way it’s laid out and the quality of the diagrams and pictures make it so easy to understand, no matter what your experience as a coach is.

    If you lead a busy lifestyle, as most of us do. You can pick up these manuals and lesson plans and incorporate them into your sessions at short notice.

    The players love the variety and keep coming back for more. They always go away with a few more key factors from each session.

    – Richard Knight – Community Rugby Coach – UK

  10. Thomas Laingan

    Thomas Laingan

    I only played rugby for four years, so as a player I have limited experience.

    The coaching rugby manual has helped me with coaching the basic techniques correctly, which I think at mini level is most important. It has given me confidence to know I am coaching correctly and safely.

    The practice drills have helped vary training secessions so the players do not get bored. By varying the games it is easier to hold their attention and they get more out of the training.

    For me the layout of the book is excellent as I can find what I want to pay particular to easily. It is easy to understand with ways to move a practice on to the next level, something I would not be able to do otherwise.

    For myself this book is a great sorce of information on basic technique which is ideal for my level of coaching. As a result the players are getting more informed training which shows when the play.

    – Thomas Laingan – UK

  11. Kevin Fuery

    Kevin Fuery

    I am happy to endorse Dan Cottrell’s “Everything You Need to Know About Coaching Rugby” and all the coaching aids.

    The sessions are stronger and more enjoyable, with great response from the players which is pushing me on to achieve a higher coaching level and running a summer camp for kids.

    – Kevin Fuery – Ireland

  12. Stuart Collinge

    Stuart Collinge

    I purchased my copy of “Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby” hoping for a few ideas to give my coaching sessions a boost.

    What I received was a total transformation of my coaching sessions.

    The manual has added a lot more structure to my coaching, and as a result the numbers of players attending my sessions has increased. I also find that the manual saves me a lot of time.

    I used to go away from the game at the weekend with an idea of what areas to cover in my sessions, I would then have to start and design drills and sessions around this.

    Now all I have to do is look in the manual at the relevant section, and I have a large slice of my session already mapped out for me.

    Its a great coaching aid, and I would recommend it to anyone

    – Stuart Collinge – Head Coach – UK

  13. David Oakes

    David Oakes

    I can fully endorse the ‘Coaching Rugby’ manual without hesitation. I use it every week to put my training plans together which would have been so much more difficult without it as a resource of ideas and examples.

    As a result of it’s use my training sessions have become much more varied and diverse. This is crucial to encourage players to be more focused and prevent boredom, which in turn means the players show more commitment and put in greater effort.

    I’m convinced that as well as an aid to being creative with training plans it is an essential technical reference which provides good advice on how the individual technical aspects of the game can be applied to the match scenario.

    While I think it is extremely difficult to attest match results specifically to it use, we are so far unbeaten this season and I would not want to be without it during the coming months

    – David Oakes – UK

  14. Duncan Parker

    Duncan Parker

    As a new coach, who only took the Level 1 course in the summer of 2008, I have found the techniques, skills and training plans, in all of their forms, to be absolutely invaluable.

    I try not to do too many drills, I find game time to more important; however, the layout of the drill plans that Dan provides allows me to stop games at appropriate times and to introduce detailed & specific plans quickly and neatly. All the more important for my U8s team.

    The development team came runners up in a tournament and much of it is down to the techniques that I am using rather than the manner of their presentation and that success falls directly on to the shoulders of Dan Cottrell and the rest of the Coaching Rugby team.

    – Duncan Parker – UK

  15. Kieran Smith

    Kieran Smith

    Coaching Rugby has simplified my preparation for each training session.

    It saves me time trying to find new ways of doing drills and gives easily workable methods for coaching the fundamental skills of the game.

    When I have a situation where there is only have a little time to fully prepare, I love being able to pick up the manual an hour before practice knowing that I can put together a really good session for my players.

    Kieran Smith – 1st XV Coach – Australia

  16. Ken Rowe

    Ken Rowe

    Dan’s Coaching tips and drills have allowed me to update my coaching skills and provide my lads the opportunity of structured and fun training and coaching sessions.

    – Ken Rowe – UK

  17. Gary Shanahan

    Gary Shanahan

    I coach in France. After an introduction to the club last season teaching the under 9s I was invited this season to coach the seniors and from the start I was in difficulty because I my French was not great. Ok day to day, but on the pitch I needed help communicating with accuracy, brevity and speed.

    So I bought ‘Coaching Rugby’ and found it did just that, it deals with the core concepts and describes and explains them clearly in easy to translate language!

    It has helped me more clearly focus on the elements of every session, organise the players far more effectively and then importantly communicate the ideas – all across a language barrier! I would study the sessions I had planned with it’s help and check my French Rugby lexicon for the right words.

    It would still be an amusement for the players to hear me calling out directions in my version of French, but at least they understood what I was asking as it was more precise. I can only imagine my sessions in English now!

    So not only as Coaching Rugby has helped me cross the language divide but also and more importantly I believe I am starting to see significant improvements in areas of their game which I accredit to my use of Coaching Rugby.

    – Gary Shanahan – France

  18. Les Cusworth

    Les Cusworth

    I have been involved with coaching and playing Rugby for 44 years.

    The resource manual Everything You Need to Know for Coaching Rugby is the most comprehensive guide I have seen in all this time, it compliments all the excellent material that Dan has produced over the last few years.

    – Les Cusworth – Argentina

  19. Richard Brownlee

    Richard Brownlee

    It has helped with giving me a real proper framework to follow and made me much more confident about running interesting and worthwhile coaching sessions.

    – Richard Brownlee – UK

  20. Paul McNeill

    Paul McNeill

    I believe Coaching Rugby has set me in good stead to improve my skills as a player and a coach, and has helped the young kids that i train understand the game and drills easier.

    The layout is simple to under stand and fallow

    – Paul McNeill – UK

  21. Ian Bitran

    Ian Bitran

    The Coaching Rugby Manual has helped me step my game up to the next level.

    The tips and drills presented in the guides have proved useful for me as well as my teammates, and helped us turn our weakest points into our strongest.

    I highly recommend it to anyone looking to increase their level of play.

    – Ian Bitran – USA

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Dan is a practising RFU Level 3 coach and coach educator. He coaches with the Bristol Bears DPP programme, is the assistant coach with University of Bristol Women's team and is a coach mentor for Broad Plain RFC mini and juniors section. He was Head Coach of Swansea Schools U15 and has previously held coaching roles with the Young Ospreys Academy and as Assistant Coach with the Wales Women's Team for the 2010 World Cup. He was director of rugby for Cranleigh School, Surrey. Previously he played rugby for Bath and Bristol.