Rugby coaching tips for instilling game sense

Game sense

  • Your players need to be clear what aspect of the game you are focusing on.
  • You need to condition the rugby training game to give the players the maximum opportunity to practise the rugby skill you are focusing on in your coaching session.
  • You need to observe players carefully. Again, focusing on the rugby skill you’ve chosen to practise.
  • The majority of the time must be spent playing the game but you must have breaks to talk to the players.

Games into practice: a case study

Let’s say you want to focus the rugby coaching session on ball retention in contact, specifically ball presentation in the tackle.

  • Play a six-a-side full contact game in a 10m wide channel. The limited space should mean lots of tackles, and lots of opportunities for you to observe your players performing the rugby skill being practised.
  • Let the teams play for around two minutes at a time, spending only about 30 seconds speaking to them between each section of play.
  • When you do talk to your players, focus only on improving their ball presentation. Don’t worry about the tackler or the support players unless their actions have affected the ball presentation.
  • The game should be quite intense, due to the high number of contact situations, so you might find shorter bursts of play and more rests are necessary.
  • If you have enough players, rotate the teams for each section of play. This will give all your players the chance to have a rest.
  • The resting players can observe and feedback on what they see.

To receive more rugby coaching advice, games and drills, subscribe to Rugby Coach Weekly, a journal aimed at new coaches and coaches of new and inexperienced players. Click here to find out more.

To read more about coaching your support players to develop game intelligence, so they can make the right decisions in a game, click here.

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