EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

My second session back after lockdown’s lifted

This is my plan for my second session back after lockdown.

  1. Warm up: Aussie Rules (my version)
  2. Game 1: Three phase, three pass
  3. Skills: Passing races
  4. Game 2: Game 1 enhanced

See my first lockdown session here.

WARM UP: Aussie Rules

This is my very watered-down version of Aussie Rules. Some may say that it is nothing like the real game but it’s what I have come to call it. Feel free to make your own version as authentic as you like.

  1. Players are allowed to run, kick and pass within the game.
  2. Passes and kicks can go in any direction.
  3. A point is scored by kicking the ball through two cones at the end of the pitch (football style goal).
  4. A scoring kick must be below head height.
  5. After three two-handed touches, the ball is turned over.
  6. There’s a turnover if a pass hits the ground.

Coaching points

This is a fun game to get people moving and exploring a variety of skills. Use it as an opportunity to observe what players can and cannot do and give plenty of praise throughout.

GAME 1: 3 phase, 3 pass game

  1. Play a standard game of touch rugby.
  2. The attacking team gets three phases before a turnover.
  3. If the attacking team can get three passes in before a touch then the phase count is reset to zero.

I like to run my phases as a ball carrier going to the ground so that players can practice their ground skills (for example, how to fall, ball placement, lifts to 9 ) but anything would work like immediate offload or chicken scratch.

Coaching points

How do we create and recognise the right opportunities to get three passes in?

What does our support look like to allow us to make three passes (close support, wide support)?

Do we need to reset the phase count or can we score in three phases?

You can play around with this game to suit your team. It could be that instead of three passes leading to a reset, it could be a line break or a successful 2v1 or a specific move like a switch or a loop. It could be that each team has a different reset action but we keep it a secret from the defence and see if they can work it out.

SKILLS: Passing races

  1. Create teams of between 4 and 6 players.
  2. Teams line up back to back on the halfway line, with the ball at one end.
  3. On the whistle, each team races to their respective 10m line in front of them and then back to the halfway line.
  4. The ball must go through every pair of hands on the way out and again on the way back.
  5. The first team back with the ball in hand is the winner.

I like to do a best-of-three competition. If I have enough groups then I would create a ladder system where the winners move up and the losers move down to try and create appropriate challenge and get the competitive spirit flowing.

Coaching points

Ball carrier needs to accelerate forward to bring the team with them.

Can we receive the ball early, away from our body with our hands catching the ball in the position we want them in to pass?

Might need to support players technically if we can’t achieve the desired outcome consistently.

Is there an opportunity here for players to support each other? Allow them the time to make improvements.

GAME 2: 3 phase, 3 pass game progression

  1. Back into the previous game but now I would look to add a couple of areas into the game.
  2. Score by executing a 2v1 and the attacking team can keep possession and attack the other way (turn and burn).
  3. Each team can call one 90 second timeout if they want to solve any problems they are facing.

Find a way to motivate and reward the defence. If the defending team can get a third phase turnover on the first attempt without any resets then they get a bonus point. You could also use things like touches behind the gain line, intercepts, double tackles or rewarding a touch on the attacking teams key playmaker.

Coaching points

How can we use our three passes to create 2v1 opportunities? Are those always on the outside or can we isolate a defender in the middle and play through them?

How do the players want to use their available timeouts? Do they want coach support at that point or time by themselves? How do we make sure what is said adds value to our play? As a coach, you may need to support how these timeouts happen. Allocating a timeout manager in each team may help the conversation have a purpose and develop some leadership skills.

Do we recognise all attacking opportunities in the game? Trying to make three passes shouldn’t constrain us from taking other options (pick and go, kick) when they are available.

Do any players need further support with their understanding of how to make passes under pressure? Can I do that away from the group via a quick comment or using my co-coaches to take them out of the game for some focused work?

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