EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Your essential first-half match checklist

One of the biggest challenges for any coach watching the game is to have a dispassionate view of what’s happening. Use this checklist to help focus on key areas in a logical order…

To be able to analyse the game quickly, you need to know what you are looking for in the match and to stay focussed. Use this checklist to work through and make brief notes on each area.

The order to look at things is important; defence is always first as without that working we will never win games. Next is the set piece, like scrums and lineouts; this is where possession comes from and it has to function for the rest of our attack to be effective.

Of course, you can switch between attack and defence when you are observing, but aim to allocate enough time on each area before half-time. Then you can feedback to the players. In the second half you will be thinking more about substitutions and adjusting tactics.

1 DEFENCE

Spend five minutes at the end of the pitch and five minutes side-on to get an all-round view. Split into individual tackles and defensive organisation.

Count “good” tackles and note missed tackles and why they were missed. Listen for the communication between players and look at the spacing between defenders. Note how quickly the team is getting into position to defend at each phase.

2 SET PIECE

Watch attacking and defensive lineouts and scrums from the side of the pitch. Note where you’re winning ball and check if you’re challenging the opposition at every set piece.

Look at the players’ body positions in the scrum especially with less experienced players.

3 ATTACKING LINES

From the end of the pitch make sure players are running straight and attacking space. Look at players spacing and the positioning of the forward runners in open play.

Count the number of players in each ruck for five or six rucks in a row to make sure you’re not over committing but still winning good ball.

4 SUPPORT PLAY

From the side of the pitch check the players’ depth in attack and whether the support players are attacking from depth and at pace. Look at the decisions players are making especially in key positions: fly half, number 8 and scrum half.

Check to see if players are following their passes to support the players outside them. Listen for communication from support runners and whether they are running close enough to the ball carrier laterally.

5 FOCUS AREA

Always have a specific area of the game to focus on for five minutes. It will be something worked on in training during the week. For example if you have trained getting back to your feet after tackling and then into the game then that will be one of the focus points.

First half match checklist

Read how Ed Robinson’s first half analysis and work with his players allowed them to identify spaces to attack to allow them to score the Try of 2018.

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