EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Rugby and return to play

As lockdown restrictions are gradually loosened, we consider the most appropriate responses as coaches.

1 RULES IS RULES

Wherever you are in the world, your governing body will have set out guidelines and regulations to what is allowed and not allowed.

Despite the natural inclination of rugby people (starting with William Webb Ellis) to flout the rules, and whether or not you believe it to be the right approach, stick to these rules. It sets the right tone for your team in terms of respect.

CountryRegulations link
World RugbyWR
EnglandRFU
IrelandIRFU
ScotlandSRU
WalesWRU
New ZealandNZRFU
AustraliaRugby Australia
USAUSA rugby
Canadano link yet

2 YOUR SEASON

While we might be desperate to get back to training, you also need to factor in the time of year and how it fits into your season. You might need to recalibrate your planning cycle if you are in-season. Or, if you are out of season, then you might not be back training anyway, so you don’t need to be racing out to play.

That doesn’t mean you can’t organise some form of gatherings. As long as they are held within the government and NGB guidelines you can still have some meaningful training. It may not look much like rugby. Yet, it starts to rebuild the crucial social connections a team needs. Plus, you can start to re-establish your culture.

3 RUGBY OR TRAINING

Currently, certainly in the social game, rugby training is almost defunct as a team activity. You can do some skills work. See the ideas at the end of this article.

However, if you can be outside with your players, then your mindset should be around general athletic improvements, with some rugby-related activities. Forget any form of contact or heads-up evasion activities.

4 PLAYER WANTS, COACH NEEDS

Players want to play. They will ignore “rules” once they are the midst of a game. Young players especially will ignore social distancing.

This is not the time for free play or player empowerment. You need to take control to give the players the right space to work in, and be safe.

You need to ensure activities stay with in the boundaries, don’t run for longer than necessary and there are plenty of chances to wash hands and equipment.

5 PRE SEASON MINDSET

Have a pre-season mindset when it comes to any return-to-play planning. This fits well with the gradual reduction of restrictions. There’s less need for contact and the players can work on skills.

Problems with come when you are considering games in training. You will probably use more races than chaotic-evasive games.

Build up the levels of intensity. Often this can be done by using shorter sessions. For example, if you normally train for 90 minutes, cut it down to an hour.

Our advice is to be patient. Patient on what you can do in terms of training, but also what you can achieve. Skills, fitness and tactics: they will take time to get up to speed. Concentrate on creating the right environments again. Your respect for the rules and regulations sets the tone for your players to follow. In this case, don’t be like William Webb Ellis.


Use our Sparta exercises which can be done in pairs.

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