In designing my first session back after lockdown, I need to understand my focus, principles and my team’s current state.
What is my focus for this return to rugby?
I want the players to enjoy their return to rugby and I want to run sessions that allow for plenty of social interaction that they have probably missed.
I need to be empathetic to the fact that they will have done a varying amount of exercise in the last few months.
I do want to use the next few months to re-enforce my own principles of play for my backline players and build on the skill levels and understanding that will underpin that.
What are my backline principles?
Run hard and fast onto the ball
Identify and attack the edges of the defence
Work hard off the ball to create numbers and width
It’s called our Rules of Engagement as I’m experimenting with a Top Gun theme at the moment.
BEFORE THE FIRST SESSION
I will be communicating with my players to encourage them where possible to build up their levels of exercise so that the return to training is not a complete shock. We have been sharing HITT sessions and things like yoga workouts to support the boys.
We have been holding regular online sessions to challenge players thinking around the game and to keep a level of engagement.
I will re-share the principles with them in the week leading up to the session. We have this as a document but also highlight videos that show them delivering on those principles.
Finally, I will remind them what the purpose of the sessions are over the next few months. It is not a really long pre-season: it is a chance to enjoy playing the game, improve where we can and, importantly, support the club to get back up and running and a hub of the community again.
A version of the 10 pass game.
First team to 10 passes gets a point.
Can move with the ball.
Pass any direction.
An incomplete pass is a turnover.
Defence is non-contact but can intercept or disrupt a pass.
Progress this into a “banking” game. This is something we’ve done before, so I would suggest that if it is new concept for your team, it might be kept for later on in the season.
First team to 30 points.
The team can call “bank” at any point to secure that number of passes but must give up possession to the other team. For example, the attacking team make 10 consecutive passes and call “bank”, they now have 10 points.
If the attacking team make an incomplete pass then they get no points for that sequence but would still keep any previously banked points.
Most of the pressure we feel in this game is usually false. The defence can do very little to stop us. Players should take their time, move to create space and pictures they want to see and then make accurate passes.
If a defender knocks the ball out of the air, they will get possession regardless of whether it is a clean intercept or not. Focus is on attackers to complete potential scoring opportunities. In a game we want to complete a 2v1 for a try, not receive a penalty because the defence disrupted the ball.
In the banking game players need to consider the tactical element of what they think they can achieve and what they think their opponents are capable of when deciding when to call “bank” and give up possession. This might relate to how we use kicking in a match situation. “ Where are we happy for the opposition to have the ball?”
We will play Ready4Rugby.
It’s a game our players are very familiar and comfortable with as we played a lot before Christmas. I’d give it a Six Nations theme and allow each team to choose a tactical challenge to play with.
SKILL ZONE: RONDO
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