EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Framing the problem

We want to have a shared understanding. That means having a shared language. And then we want to simplify complexity for the players.

To simplify the complexity we need to clearly and explicitly share the plan (and the thinking behind it) with the players.

This can be done by using questioning and then establishing buy-in by attempting to execute this on the training ground.

Let’s make sure we can coordinate the solution with the players. Vince, are you using the same language, and are you seeing the same picture as them.
I need to avoid jargon, I get that, but the same picture?
What does the game look like on the pitch to them. You are on the sidelines. What will they see when they look up?
So, where are the defence standing, setting up and how are they moving when they start to defend?
Yes, but you might need to help the players recognise these cues.

To make the game model work, the players need to make order from the chaos.

They have to find themselves in the place they want and then implement the plan. If they want to do something they know they can do well, they need to put themselves in that position.

Mason outlines his theory of what a defence looks like. He calls the defence a daisy chain – defending players connections.

“Attack in rugby is simple. It’s a constant observation and assessment of two daisy chains; the front field (the defensive line) and the backfield (back three covering kicking space).

The strength, width and connection of these daisy chains, should paint a picture of opportunity.

If the daisy chain is spread weakly, then we break it by playing through the middle.

If the daisy chain is too short, then we beat it by playing round. If the backfield daisy chain is poorly connected, then we kick over into space. Simple.”

Vince, can you give me an “if” from the last game.
Our attack got nowhere last game because Adi kept taking contact and Tommy thinks every half gap is an opportunity for him. The defence were compressed but we played into them more often than not. They're both good players but they're making bad decisions. IF they could recognise where the space is, THEN we would take these opportunities when they were actually on.
We have intention to behave, a plan from the kick off. However, we must beware that chaos does happen.

If we want to look at this from a more formal academic level, it looks like this when we are sharing the mental model:

  • Teaching principles of play with representative practice designs
  • Using sub principles and heuristics (If-Then rules)
  • Perception of game information

The representative practice designs will be covered in subsequent modules. In essence, you are trying to closely replicate what will happen in the game in your training so that players can see and react to the right cues. Note, it doesn’t just have to be games-based.

The players and Vince need to share this model. They need to agree on the principles, the if-thens given their shared understanding of the game information.

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