A skills calorie-buster session

What you tell your players this rugby coaching drill session is about

  • Reducing unforced errors.
  • Working hard to bust some calories.

What you tell your players to do in the drill

  • Keep moving. Maintain rugby skill levels under pressure using communication and vision.
  • Make decisions on the best pass and ways to create the space to move into, or which attacker to mark.

What you get your players to do in the drill

Set up two types of game, the first in a square, the second in a rectangle. The size of the these boxes depends on the ages of players, say 7 x 7 metres and 7 x 14 metres respectively for adults. For both games:

  • Players cannot be in possession of the ball for more than 4 seconds at a time.
  • Players must keep moving. They cannot give or receive a pass unless they are moving.

Penalise deliberate fouls, including for holding the ball for too long, passing or receiving the ball standing still and running out of the box.

Game one

Three players run around the edge of the square passing a ball. They have 30 seconds in which to make as many passes as they can. A defender blocks the passes and tackles the ball carrier.

Swap the players around at each breakdown, such as after a player is tackled or if a player drops the ball, runs out of the box, or receives a pass standing still.

Game two

Three players run and pass a ball in any direction through the rectangle, scoring at the far end. A defender attempts to block the ball and/or touch-tackle the player in possession.

Swap the players around after each score or after three failed attacks.


  • Add more defenders into each game.
  • Ensure players only use rugby type passes.
  • Ban spin passes.

What to shout out to the players

  • “Anticipate – don’t move into a space before you need to.”
  • “Keep moving by changing your pace – slow to fast to slow.”
  • “Use your voice and hand signals to show the ball carrier where you are.”
  • “Pass so your team mates can move onto the ball.”

What to look out for in this rugby drill

  • Players slowing down. They must maintain a high intensity for short sustained periods. This helps test mental as well as physical skills.
  • Players making “panic” passes. Stress to the players that they need to keep control. Encourage them to anticipate their next move, as well as their team mates and opponents.

What to think about

How should mistakes be dealt with? What types of penalties might benefit your players? What types of pass might be most effective in different circumstances? How can players create more space by their speed of movement or different types of alignment? Do players work harder in games than in skills training? If so, why?

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