Rugby has improved as a spectacle over the years as the speed of play and levels of skills have improved year after year. Almost all rugby skills can be taught and the majority of them are based on very basic concepts. That is where coaches and players usually go wrong: the foundation is weak… then the rest falls apart.
For most coaches and players the first excuse that comes up is ” I don’t have time”. The real reason is “I didn’t take time to plan”. For almost all of the skills drills we will be discussing on the site and to improve across the board, all you need is a rugby ball.
Many of the other training aids are really helpful and do serve a purpose in their own right. When you get onto the field the only thing that matters is the rugby ball.
Starting with the basic rugby skills
Players, coaches and parents usually have lofty dreams and see what the guys and girls at the top of the game can do. Everyone wants to be like them, but what they show on the field, started off with some very basic drills… that they still do every week.
Skills can roughly be grouped into two areas:
- hard skills – catching and passing, kicking, lineouts, scrums…
- soft skills – improving your rugby IQ, identifying opportunities, reading the play…
The hard skills are skills that need to form the basis for any good rugby player. These can be taught far more easily and can be mastered through repetition.
There are a few key areas we will be looking at related to hard skills. This includes:
- Catching and passing: catching drills, offload drills, passing in motion drills, spin passing drills and static passing drills
- Kicking: box kicks, drop-kicking, kick pass, kicking for touch, placekicking and when to kick
- Lineout: full lineout, hooker throw-in drills, jumper and lifter drills, lineout attacking options, lineout defensive options, short lineout and the anatomy of a lineout
- Loose play: attacking options, bringing structure when there is none, defensive options, playing without the ball, set up plays and using all 15 players
- Ruck and maul: defensive ruck techniques, mall defense, mall from lineout, mall from open play, offensive ruck techniques
- Scrums: all 8 together, the anatomy of a scrum, the front five, the front row and the props.
- Set plays: Attacking options from a lineout, attacking options from a penalty or freekick, attacking options from a scrum and attacking options from kickoffs
- Tackling and defense: Defensive alignment, head-on tackling, rush defense, side tackling tackle and jackal, tackling technique and team defensive drills
If you address these during the off-season and pre-season, you will be set to take on your opponents and have answers for most situations. If time is limited you will need to start working on your time management and what you should focus on most. This becomes a delicate balancing act based on what the situation is with your team, their skill levels and the competition you are up against.
Getting a bit more advanced
The improvement of rugby IQ overall is something that takes time. This is why countries that have all of the right structures in place to hone athletic skills like Japan and the USA are still not on par with the traditional rugby nations. They are however closing in very quickly…
Although we would not be able to address all of the situations you would face as a coach or a player, there are a couple that we thought we should touch on.
These rugby skills are soft skills, but they are related to different situations that you will face from one week to another:
- Playing against bigger players
- Playing against faster players
- Playing against more skilled players
- Concentrating for the whole game is key
These just cover some of the important areas and we will continue to build on this area in particular. There is A LOT to cover!
Bringing it all together
As with many sports, there is a lot of work that goes into improving certain aspects of the game. Bringing it all together is however a whole different story.
You will often see that on paper some teams are absolute rockstars, but they get dismantled by no-names. The ability to take your team of no-names or rockstars and really making things work together takes a lot of hard work and planning.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for this, but we will definitely try to make things a lot clearer for you.