Guide to coaching U8s and tag rugby

Spend time on skills but see if you can develop them through games and competitive activities.

These are three core skills to work on:

  1. Attack: Evasive running to score tries
  2. Catching and passing
  3. TAG defence

Training tips

  • Training should be no more than an hour.
  • During that hour, the ratio of downtime to running around should be 1:5. The maximum time for talk will be two minutes in every ten. In other words, don’t spend too much time explaining or stopping exercises and games.
  • Let the players play. If they make mistakes, let them correct themselves if possible. Otherwise, you will be criticising them all the time.

U8 key skills

The top three core skills to work on are

  1. Attack: Evasive running to score tries
  2. Catching and passing
  3. TAG defence

In particular, you should work on

  • Short passing before a TAG is made and quick passes away after a TAG is made.
  • Support of the ball carrier – calling for the ball and hands ready to catch.
  • Evasion – the ball carrier doesn’t run sideways to beat players but aims to step away from the defender.

A well-structured session will have:

  • A warm up game (like Stuck in the mud) for 10 minutes
  • A skill exercise from last week, with developments for 10 minutes
  • A game, like touch rugby for 10 minutes
  • A skill exercise with NO developments 10 minutes (maximum)
  • And finish with a game. Use this game to help them understand some of the basic rules of TAG.

Here’s a six-week plan for skills

  1. Try scoring, catching
  2. Passing, evasive footwork
  3. Evasive footwork, pass and support
  4. Pass and support, defending (making tags)
  5. Defending (making tags), scoring tries
  6. Scoring tries, pass and support

RFU Tag rules

Key points

  • Maximum numbers 6 v 6.
  • No coaches on the pitch.
  • Pitch size 45m long, 22m wide.

  • Can dive to score.
  • Cannot score if there’s a tag missing.
  • Can score if tagged within one step of the try line – be generous.

  • Players cannot dive on the ball on the ground.
  • Cannot hand the ball to another player.
  • Cannot grab the ball from another player.
  • Knock-ons, forward passes, going into touch lead to a free pass.
  • A free pass must be made to a stationary player.
  • The defence have to be 7m back from a free pass.

  • No fending off.
  • After making a tag, the tagger
  • If tagged, the ball carrier must pass within three seconds, though they can take three strides.
  • The tagger must return the tag to the tagged player. They cannot re-enter the game until this is done.

  • Once a tag is made, apart from the tagger, the other defenders have to get nearer the goal line than the tagged player before they can re-enter the game.
  • PLUS, no kicking or tackling…

How to create a training plan

A training plan is an outline of the areas you are going to cover over a period of time.

At this age group, training plans can be quite simple and only need to cover a month.

What you don’t need

  1. Much time on tactics. The organisation is more important. That means players know where to stand from the restarts.
  2. Any time on “work-ons”. Work-ons are areas that teams need to cover because they didn’t perform them very well on the previous weekend.
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