EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Evasive games to suit forwards

When you want to work on evasive skills, the low-numbered players, like the front row, don’t get much of a look in if they are pitted against faster players. You need to adapt and still make the game worthwhile.

Evasion is the ability of an attacker to avoid a defender. The opposite of evasion is interception. True evasive skills are tested when the defenders are moving too.

Therefore, though there is some value in players dodging in and out of poles, or stepping nimbly through ladders, these are essentially static objects.

If you can create some form of game, then both the defenders and the attackers are working on the most effective footwork and decision-making to win.

Many of these games are either a form of touch rugby or a variation on playground games, like “bulldogs”.

This leads to a coaching challenge: the evasive ability of different players. Each player brings their own strengths to rugby, but the larger lifters and shifters aren’t going to prosper in a game where total avoidance wins.

That’s not to say that they don’t need to have better evasive skills. Any movement which takes a player a little further away from a tackler is better than none. Plus, in defence, the closer a player can get to making a tackle, the more effective the tackle.

Let’s make these adjustments to our training:

  1. Matching up
  2. Handicapping
  3. Adapting the outcomes
  4. Being realistic

MATCHING UP

In an evasive game, simply split the groups up into appropriate speeds, so quick player against quick. This form of differentiation helps build confidence in one sense, though if you are identified by a coach as “slow” you might feel hard done by.

HANDICAPPING

A form of adaption, but you can start different types of players from different starting points. This could be simply a distance or being allow to set off at a different time.

ADAPTING THE OUTCOMES

You can give extra credit to certain players if they can make a “touch” on an attacker. For example, any prop who makes a two-handed touch on a back is rewarded with a turnover ball to their team.

BEING REALISTIC

Sometimes, the game has to match the real circumstances. The players have to adapt and make the best of their ability. However, you can make the players work together to adjust their roles in defence, just lke they would in a match. For example, in a game situation, it should be that a slower player would stand closer to their defensive partners.

Mix up your approaches, so sometimes the slower players have more of a chance, and sometimes they need to adapt. They shouldn’t feel special, but they do need a chance to develop too.

Here are some ideas for games to play and ways to play them…

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