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Steve Shafley
01-15-2010, 11:21 AM
James Evans and I have discussed rugby here before, a few years back, with others, and the discussion was quite fruitful. Since then I have taken up coaching a teenaged girls (U19) club side and been introduced to the wonderful world of unfunded club sports.

First off, let me list my constraints and information:

1. This is a club side. It's supported entirely by players dues. Much of the dues are used to pay USA Rugby their CIPP fees (insurance and registration). The rest is used to pay for referees. Anything left over might be used for new balls, new jerseys, etc. Essentially there is no money to pay for anything but an indoor space in the winter. I lose $200-300 a season coaching this sport.

2. For many of the girls, this is their only sport. For a few players, this is the only sport they have ever participated in. I have had a few play soccer concurrently with rugby, and a few participate in track and field. We are not associated with any one high school in the area. Last season I had athletes from 4 different high schools, including 1 home schooled athlete. I have more cheer and pom pom competitors than any other group except the "no sport" group.
3. Rugby is the only full contact sport for girls in Michigan, with any kind of infrastructure associated with it.

4. Practice begins mid-February. It isn't an option to practice outside, so I use a combination of local high school gyms and a local sports facility that has basketball courts for indoor practices.

As a coach, this season I have some very specific S&C goals to reach for. Last year I had 3 incidents of concussions on the team. After a bit of study and analysis, I have decided that early on I need to do two things: The first is to teach them early how to fall, so I have to include falling drills. The second is to strengthen their necks. I plan on using basic high repetition neck work (gravity as resistance at first) to accomplish this.

Essentially I can only train the team using bodyweight calisthenic type exercises and running. This is the framework of the initial conditioning work:

1. Slow run around the gym. I time this and go from 5-10 minutes.
2. Warm Up: Ball Handling Drills with some running.
3. Warm Up: Basic dynamic mobility work coupled with some specific stretches. The specific areas that I stretch statically are groin, hamstrings, quads, calves, hip flexors. This is where I'm going to add in the high repetition neck work.
4. Warm Up: Dynamic Movement Prep: This is pretty standard and includes lunges, backwards lunges, split squats, high knees, butt kicks, stiff legged walks, etc. Here I included drills done on tip toes to help with ankle stability, which is a massive issue with teenage female athletes.
5. Sport Specific Drilling (appropriate for location and time of year)

6. Conditioning

Running Specific: I tend to start out fast/slow intervals. Run fast down one part of the gym, turn the corner, run slow to the next corner, run fast to the final corner, walk to the last corner, repeat. I change these up as the teams fitness improves. I will spend ~10 minutes doing just this, then move onto the next sort of conditioning circuit.

One thing I do not do is any sort of speed development work. I don't have the time for this, nor is it more important to me than building the cyclic "sprint/impact/recover" type of fitness that is necessary for rugby.

Muscular Conditioning:

I have the girls divide up into 4 groups. They each move to the corner. I will blow the whistle, and they will run to the next corner, then I will call out a calisthenic exercise and repetitions. Sometimes I call the cadence, sometimes they work at their own pace.

I use basics, like push ups (on the knees for most of them, only my best Cheerleaders or Pom Poms can actually do real push ups most of the time, last year only one girl could at the start of the season, 5 girls could at the end), crunches, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, mountain climbers, slalom jumps, star jumps, squat thrusts with jumps, lunges, split squats, frog squats, push up "tick tocks" (a Danny John special) etc. If I'm feeling nice, and they've worked hard, later in the year each group gets to pick their exercise.

I go through that 3-4 times, sometimes more.

Cool down by doing a post-session walk around the gym, and sometimes I talk about why we do certain drills, since I incorporate a number of game flow drills that seem useless to the girls until they play the game, and then they realize, all of a sudden, that the drills teach them to be in the right place at the right time.

One more thing. Every year I have to discuss proper attire for training.

Steve Shafley
01-15-2010, 11:22 AM
Also, any other ideas for S&C, ball drills, or whatever will be appreciated and considered.

Mike ODonnell
01-15-2010, 01:22 PM
Not that I know much about Rugby, but I can relate what I have learned playing and coaching hockey.

- Skills need to be developed (in this case ball handling and passing?), through repetition....repetition....repetition (boring, but most skill work is)
- Standing around doing too much positioning work IMO is a waste of valuable time (esp if you have a limited amount of time to practice). Learning breakouts in hockey for 45 min did nothing for any of our stickhandling/passing skills.
- Sprinting full speed with a ball handling/passing is probably good for them to get used to moving quick and handling/passing at full speed.
- Doing change of direction/lateral movement drills is probably required to get explosiveness in all directions

All in all a good game plan above....explosiveness, sprinting, skill work.....those would be the top things I would focus on (pushups and so forth just throw in for basic strength but nothing more).

Have fun with it!

Garrett Smith
01-15-2010, 01:27 PM
Easy way to add some neck strengthening to other drills:
http://store.titleboxing.com/necstreb.html

May have to use it early in the practice to avoid sharing too much sweat...then again, it is rugby...

Derek Weaver
01-15-2010, 01:44 PM
This is essentially what we did when I was still playing. Considering the lack of equipment I can't think of anything else to add. We got a fair amount of conditioning just from playing. The rest was very similar to what you're doing.

Arien Malec
01-15-2010, 05:21 PM
Biggest thing I learned coaching girls soccer (at much younger levels) is to keep the strength and conditioning work short and intense, focus on sprinting (as you noted above), keep the skill work to small groups (groups of 2 or three), do small sided games, and incorporate sprinting/running into everything. Drill work that involves standing around is a bad thing.

Steve Shafley
01-16-2010, 06:28 AM
All my drills (ball handling) are done in small groups (3-5) and include basic loops, scissors, and other passing maneuvers.

I run a lot of 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 drills for decision making and ball handling as well.

I try to not have a lot of standing around.

Like I mentioned in a previous thead, I did buy an Econoprowler for myself and will be pulling that out when when get outside.

Jay Ashman
01-16-2010, 07:48 AM
Shaf, I played rugby for 10 years and I can tell you that no amount of falling practice is going to help with concussions. Impacts, tackling, rucking, etc. cause those and when you get blasted and hit the ground, the last thing you are thinking about is falling right, use that time for conditioning drills.

One you can add is this: Pop pass drill. Set up 5-6 defenders in a line down the field (50-60m total) and have two girls run at them. One with ball, one following closely. When the first girl hits contact she pops the pass to her follow (while follow is at full speed) and continue down the field to the next defender. They are alternating positions until the end. This comes in handy in a game situation when she has an almost open field run but one defender stands her up, you will hope that her follow is coming full speed before a ruck can form and be able to receive a pop pass at full speed to continue the ball downfield. I hope that helps because its much easier to show than to tell, ya know.

Another thing you can do as a "reward" for good practicing or a good game is touch rugby. Teenagers love to play, so this is a great way to get them to play around WHILE reinforcing crisp passes, fast ball movement, proper set-up of players and effective defense. Plus playing it for 20 minutes is a great conditioning workout.

Have your tight 5 (1,2,3,4,5) engage in scrums on a sled (if you have one, if not use three other players) and practice balls-out drills.

We used to run the length of the field doing loop passes, line passes, etc, but it looks like you have them covered already.

Work them hard, make them more conditioned than the other team and you will win. When I helped coach my local college team the head coach ran them ragged... and they ended up beating Navy's B-side. Keep in mind this is a very small college, D3 in major sports.

If you are the only coach it is very hard to break out into positional drills, you just have to manage the time and create drills that will help forwards learn to be forwards and backs learn to be backs. Having game-type play (scrimmages) will help greatly with that, but if you are doing drills alone, it is very hard.

Get this book: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Conditioning-Rugby-Dan-Luger/dp/0736052100

This is by far the best book I have used to help me get better conditioned. Its solid as hell. I still have it as a matter of fact.

I could type out more but I don't need to be a book right now, hope some of that helped.

Steve Shafley
01-16-2010, 06:11 PM
Where I'm coming from via concussions:

Most teen girls have never done anything to train their necks. Contrast this to high school football players and wrestlers, who train them all the time.

From what I can tell from the tapes I have of the injuries, 2 concussions occurred because the girls were tackled or tackling and essentially their heads smacked into the ground. Neck strength isn't going to hurt in this, and might help. The 3rd concussion was a skull to skull contact during a tackle, and nothing would have prevented that but a scrum cap. What's bizarre is that in the previous 2 years of coaching, and 12 years of playing I didn't see a single concussion that wasn't a skull to skull event.

With foot drills and ankle work: 2 out of 5 of the teen soccer players who also played rugby had either braced or taped ankles.

I was a forward, so my coaching is very focused on the forwards. Teaching the backs to play effectively is harder for me than teaching the forwards to play. I do a lot of similar pop passing drills, and this year I'm going to take advantage of "Ruling 4"

Ruling Request from the NZRU and ARU Law 15 and 16

Law 15 6 (b) states:
After a tackle any players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carriers possession.

Law 16.1 (b) states:
How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.4 (b) states:
(b) Players must not handle the ball in a ruck.

When a player has complied with Law 15 6 (b), is on his feet and playing the ball after a tackle and is then joined by an opposition player on his feet so that the situation outlined in 16 1 (b) occurs, can the player who has complied with Law 15 6 (b) continue to play the ball with his hands or at what point does he have to release the ball?

This does not appear to be covered by Law.

Ruling

Law 15 6 (a) states: After a tackle, all other players must be on their feet when they play the ball.

Law 15.6 (b) reads: After a tackle any player on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carriers possession.

Law 15 5 (e) states that: If opposition players who are on their feet, the tackled player must release the ball.

This indicates that after a tackle a player on his feet may play the ball.

Law 16 1 (b) states: How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.1 refers to a player from each side in physical contact over the ball and implies that the ball is not in the possession of any player.

Providing a player from either side on their feet after a tackle comply with all aspects of Law 15 and have the ball in their hands prior to contact with an opposition player on his feet those players may continue with possession of the ball even if a player from the opposition makes contact with those players in possession of the ball.

Any other players joining the two players contesting the ball must not handle the ball in accordance with Law 16.4 (b). If the ball is not in possession of any player after a tackle and a ruck is formed players may not use their hands in accordance with Law 16.4 (b).

The Ruling is effective from 23 May for the start of matches in the June window and after the close of any domestic or cross border competitions

Essentially this allows the balls to clear after a tackle dramatically faster. To take advantage of this, I need better conditioning that I have in the past.

Thanks for typing that stuff up, Jay.

Nick Hildebidle
01-16-2010, 07:49 PM
A couple of things:

I've been looking around at:
http://www.coachingtoolbox.co.nz/toolbox/

There are definately some good ball drills here. If you look at the videos that correspond with the drills some of them are done in a pretty confined space, so they definately could work indoors.

One thing that all the well conditioned teams I've been on have done is carrying drills, ie fireman's carries, etc. Not sure if that's something you want to do on a hard floor though.

I'd be interested to hear what your scrum progression with the girls is. I mainly coach HS and MS boys, but I'll be doing a few scrum sessions with the girls this coming spring.

Jay Ashman
01-16-2010, 10:44 PM
scrum caps do little to protect against concussions... they do protect against cuts and the ears getting destroyed. They are an expensive "peace of mind".

Jay Ashman
01-16-2010, 11:04 PM
steve, you are welcome by the way... if you need any help let me know, like I said I played for 10 years and helped coach for a couple..

Steve Shafley
01-17-2010, 06:44 AM
Yeah, I know, Jay. Expensive ear protection and a false sense of security.

Jay Ashman
01-17-2010, 07:14 AM
Yeah, I know, Jay. Expensive ear protection and a false sense of security.

yep... not to say they are not useful. A lot of people wear them and even with a small sense of security it does wonders for their gameplay. I wore one when I was a 2nd Row for the ears and I found I was actually more aggressive in my tackles wearing it so I kept it on.

being that they are teenage girls you aren't going to see the boneshaking hits you would see at the Men's League level, so teaching them to run into contact effectively may help a bit as well.

You have experience already, so you know what to do. Just condition the hell out of them and by the 75th minute when the other team is gasping for air, your girls are going strong.

Gant Grimes
01-19-2010, 10:07 AM
Where I'm coming from via concussions:

Most teen girls have never done anything to train their necks. Contrast this to high school football players and wrestlers, who train them all the time.

From what I can tell from the tapes I have of the injuries, 2 concussions occurred because the girls were tackled or tackling and essentially their heads smacked into the ground. Neck strength isn't going to hurt in this, and might help.

You can absolutely address this. I have children and young girls in my judo club who can't lie on their back and tuck their chins to their chests. Give them some basic instruction and practice in break falling (two minutes a day), and it becomes second nature in a couple months.

I played inside and outside center. The biggest issues with young back is 1) not knowing how to control speed on the pitch, 2) not finishing plays, especially loops or misses, and 3) quitting on a play when somebody is tackled. If you only work on #3 and teach the girls to get set back up, you'll overwhelm a lot of defenses.

James Evans
01-19-2010, 10:41 AM
Good stuff Shaf. You should ask that guy NVR2late for some coaching tips.

I'll add some stuff when I have time.

Concussion

I was concussed 5 times when playing. One was an out cold job, one sent me into a parallel world where I played for 60 minutes and then snapped back and had no idea where I was nor had any recollection of the previous hour (including half time). But all of them came from boots/knees to the head. I've only seen one concussion come from head-ground contact and the guy was piledriven headfirst into the ground (very hard ground at the beginning of the season).

Some thoughts on this:

1. The IRB and other governing bodies are very concerned about rising incidences of concussion (and indeed other injuries) in the game. Oddly the protocol post-concussion seems to have been downscaled.

2. Learning to fall. I'm with Jay on this. I studied judo for a few years but I don't think breakfall training helped much. It's learning to take impact that helps. When I stopped playing 15s regularly and became a 'sevens specialist' (ie once a year!) I saw how unconditioned for contact you become without contact. I know that sounds obvious but I was stunned how sore my shoulders would be from tackling in a handful of 14 minute games. It's difficult to do this in a school hall but you've got to be drilled in contact and not afraid of it. Girls are going to be behind boys on this front because boys take every opportunity to rough each other up in everyday life. I always raise an eyebrow when powercleans are promoted as teaching the trainee to take impact, taking impact teaches that.

3. Tackling skills. I was a pretty competent and aggressive tackler however the big concussions were on occasions when I got my head in the wrong place and got whacked for it - primarily knee or thigh into the side of the head. My fault. Sometimes this is going to happen anyway but drilling this should prevent it 9 times out of 10. Last time I played I did the same thing in the opening 30 seconds of a tournament. Split my eyebrow open at 10am on a Sunday and had 6 stitches immediately. That one could have been avoided, I was just being lazy.

4. Neck strength. I think your ideas are sound. At school we did nothing for neck strength save warm up/mobility moves. Neck rolling and tilting the head backwards went out of favour as bad medicine when I was about 16 but we continued with turns to the side and front (both resisted and unresisted). In the PM article I wrote a few years back I quoted a training book from the 1950s and the author advocates neck bridges. Probably not one for your girls. First time I ever saw someone using a neck harness was an England international prop, I could see the relevance of neck strength for front row scrummaging. Never really thought about training the neck against whiplash style injuries like a boxer until you made your post. A possibility to add resistance would be therabands. You can buy these by the roll.

5. Scrum caps. Modern scrum caps are designed to do a bit more than prevent cauliflower ears. They were mandatory at schoolboy level in New Zealand and Japan (not sure if they still are). I do think they are indicative of a culture of kit porn and kids get their parents to buy whatever they see the pros wear. Remember how everyone had the fingerless gloves for a while? (actually, I found those useful). The argument about inflated confidence is bandied around quite a bit but if they can add some kind of cushioning why not wear them? And of course they will protect the girls from cuts and abrasions.

6. Gum shields. I have to admit I could never wear one, they made me gag. Thankfully I still have a set of my own teeth. Now I can't remember where I read this but I believe one of the major advantages of a shield is the reduction of vibration through the skull from a blow to the head - the jaw is cushioned. This could of course be bollocks but in a country that values pearly white teeth so highly I hope your girls are wearing them.

I bashed that out in a bit of a hurry I'm afraid.

James Evans
02-05-2010, 08:37 AM
Some more rambling from me:

Touch Rugby

Use this as a warm up. Try to ensure the girls have space. I've done this when we've used a quarter of the pitch and had something like 30 guys playing and it was stupid. Split them into smaller groups if necessary.

Main cue - get them to avoid chasing the ball. Imagine 22 kids playing soccer and 20 of them (the goalkeepers are excluded) are just running up and down the field following the ball. This is what you want to avoid. Help them learn to maintain shape in both attack and defence, run and play off one another and let them use the ball to make space.

I love touch but it can be frustrating if it's crowded. Go for 4-5 tackles and then handover to the defending team. Make sure the player with the ball stops pretty much the moment they are tackled and taps and passes quickly. Stealing ground at the tackle is frustrating too. Define the tackle area too. Thighs up to chest is fine and tackles should be two handed.

Touch is very big in Australia and New Zealand. It develops some good skill and game sense.

Steve Shafley
02-11-2010, 08:15 PM
Ran a nice first practice. Had 15 girls out, which is pretty good for 8:30 PM on a Thursday night.

Warm ups
-4 laps around gym
-joint mob/static stretches
-dynamic mob

Ball Handling/Familiarization
-pass and follow
-pop pass through traffic
-pass down line before chaser passes ball
-passes and pop passes/conditioning

Conditioning:
-4 corners BWEs and sprints
-Walk of Death (heh)...lunges and squat thrust + jump combos.
-neck nods

All in about an hour. There are going to be some sore girls tomorrow.

Matthew Spiller
02-18-2010, 08:49 PM
Hey Steve,

I'm not clear on all the all the exercises you listed, but relevant current areas of focus for your athletes could also include ACL tear prevention and some type of 'barefoot running' simulation or equivalent conditioning (like to prevent ankle sprains).

ACL sprain prevention can be a big buzzword, especially if any of the girls or their mothers knows a girl who went through it and the rehab.

Sounds like you are doing some really great stuff. Wish I had a dedicated, knowledable coach when I was in H.S.

Steve Shafley
02-20-2010, 08:36 PM
I've got an ankle series that I need to implement, basically barefoot walking on toes, forwards, backwards, sideways, then some pigeon toe and duck walks both forwards and backwards.

I will have to research some ACL preventative stuff.

Steve Shafley
02-20-2010, 08:39 PM
I made them choose between the "Walk of Death" and "Suicides" conditioning routines, with suicides simply that sequence basketball players use inside running back and forth.

They didn't like either choice. The next time I had them choose between "Butterflies and Ponies" and "Pretty Princess Tea Party" which were the exact same workouts as before.

I got to take my laughs as I get them.

Jay Ashman
02-21-2010, 07:26 AM
I made them choose between the "Walk of Death" and "Suicides" conditioning routines, with suicides simply that sequence basketball players use inside running back and forth.

They didn't like either choice. The next time I had them choose between "Butterflies and Ponies" and "Pretty Princess Tea Party" which were the exact same workouts as before.

I got to take my laughs as I get them.

Classic, Steve.... classic.

Steve Shafley
02-21-2010, 04:59 PM
For the record, the Walk of Death is a lunge/squat thrust+jump combo that gets longer and longer.

There seem to be few things teenage girls hate more than a squat thrust. If they do enough of them, most of them don't have the energy to bother the boy's squad practicing next to them.

Jay Ashman
02-21-2010, 06:19 PM
good workout, Steve... that is death

James Evans
02-22-2010, 03:15 AM
For the record, the Walk of Death is a lunge/squat thrust+jump combo that gets longer and longer.

There seem to be few things teenage girls hate more than a squat thrust. If they do enough of them, most of them don't have the energy to bother the boy's squad practicing next to them.

I imagine burpees would probably be about as welcome as a hole in the head.

Cormac O'Brien
02-23-2010, 06:28 AM
Couple of small additions.

On Gum shields, I believe they are the most important safety equipment on the Rugby pitch. I can't quote much regarding concussion, but I know you are not allowed take the pitch without a gumshield at youth or senior level over here (Ireland). Plus they protect your teeth in a contact situation. I learned tat the expense of the integrity of one of my bottom incisors. Big chip.

If they make you gag, trim the ends and refit untill they don't, shouldn't take too much off them and should still keep your molars apart as your jaw doesn't really bend.

One little conditioning exercise I used to hate was called "up and downs" or "Up, out and down" for Backs.

Sprint a distance (e.g. 22 to halfway line or between tram tracks.) plant turn and sprawl.
Then press up and sprint off back to the other line. Bit like a burpee but with a sprint instead of a jump.
Its a roast and mimics the picking yourself up after a ruck/maul or tackle and getting to the next breakdown. "Up out and down" involves a longer sprint.
Legend has it that the great Micheal Jones did 100 up and downs a day as conditioning.
Could be nonsense but its a good story, and he reinvented the Openside flanker position.

On learning to fall, you can teach someone to Knee>hip>Shoulder but that only helps if they are taken round the hips or knee, or if they are moving forward.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlHo4Xk9rAE&feature=related

This is not a big use if you get smashed.

And there are other ways to recycle ball out of contact, e.g, between the legs, which accommodate a drive more but can be a bit more risky if you don't know what your are doing.

James Evans
02-23-2010, 08:35 AM
Couple of small additions.

On Gum shields, I believe they are the most important safety equipment on the Rugby pitch. I can't quote much regarding concussion, but I know you are not allowed take the pitch without a gumshield at youth or senior level over here (Ireland). Plus they protect your teeth in a contact situation. I learned tat the expense of the integrity of one of my bottom incisors. Big chip.

If they make you gag, trim the ends and refit untill they don't, shouldn't take too much off them and should still keep your molars apart as your jaw doesn't really bend.

One little conditioning exercise I used to hate was called "up and downs" or "Up, out and down" for Backs.

Sprint a distance (e.g. 22 to halfway line or between tram tracks.) plant turn and sprawl.
Then press up and sprint off back to the other line. Bit like a burpee but with a sprint instead of a jump.
Its a roast and mimics the picking yourself up after a ruck/maul or tackle and getting to the next breakdown. "Up out and down" involves a longer sprint.
Legend has it that the great Micheal Jones did 100 up and downs a day as conditioning.
Could be nonsense but its a good story, and he reinvented the Openside flanker position.

Cormac, I had no idea that gum shields were mandatory in Ireland. I think that is incredibly sensible.

And I second your suggestion of Up Downs.

Jay Ashman
02-23-2010, 08:43 AM
I believe they are mandatory in America as well. I recall before games the ref checking the cleats and checking for mouthguards.

James Evans
02-23-2010, 08:55 AM
Sometimes we'd get our studs checked, sometimes not.

Often the refs who were into the little safety touches were the ones not so keen on learning the rules of the game!

Michael Barnes
02-23-2010, 10:05 AM
hi steve...i am an ex under 18,19 and 20 provincial (ulster) player with 12 years playing all ireland league, 2 years in johannesburg playing for wanderers rfc and a season in maine playing for portland rfc..i am sure you understand the difficulties in conveying much helpfull advice to you over the interweb...however, the most important drills i took part in at an early age, me bing a fly half/ centre, were the classic 2 attackers on 1 defender, 3 on 2, 4 on 3 etc etc..making sure the attackers stay deep and run at the defenders inside shoulder, thereby fixing them and cutting out their option of a drift defence...it may get repetitive, but when it becomes second nature, it pays dividends..the way the game is played today means that ball retention and recycling is king..the backs must play as forwards and the forwards, backs..drills focusing on 3 or 4 players cleaning out the opposition as their ball carrying teammate goes to ground will mean quick ball, and the other players must be in position ASAP to reap the benefits..both forwards and backs must be able to do these drills i.e backs rucking and forwards positioning themselves in the traditional backs positions..again, it will seem repetitive, but it must be done, and it will become second nature..i really don't envy you, because from what i can understand, you are working alone, you are out of pocket and getting little or no structured help from the union ( compared to the game this side of the pond), but i wish you all the best and will be following this thread with interest....

Harry Munro
02-24-2010, 04:42 AM
Hi Steve, I've had three seperate unbeaten seasons when I was in my mid teens.. club and school rugby. Two things these unbeaten seasons had in common, was number 1 defence and number 2 fitness. When defence is second nature to everyone then everything else seems so much easier, although I'm sure you know this!

Steve Shafley
02-24-2010, 01:49 PM
Thanks for all the tips.

Cormac, I like that drill (sprint/burpee thing) and will implement it.

I've had them doing extensive ball handling the past 5 practices and this last practice we began the classic 2 on 1 drills. I work alot of 2 on 1s and 3 on 2s especially after we get outside.

Gant Grimes
02-24-2010, 02:17 PM
Has anyone mentioned Fran?

Darren Reed
05-23-2010, 07:20 PM
Steve, a bit late to this, but some broad ideas. Been playing rugby since I was 9-ish, state/provincial under 18, under 21, some open age grade rep level stuff.

On gum shields - get them custom made at a dentist. The store bought ones are crapola in my experience. Pay the price and get one custom molded. Worth every penny.

For beginners, basic ball and contact skills are the most important things in my mind (after their conditioning is taken care of obviously). The 2 on 1's and 3 on 2 drills are awesome for this. Emphasise ball carrier "fixing" defenders and using space to beat opponents. EVERY player needs to learn to control the pointt of contact. For attackers that means carrying the ball into contact correctly and placing it correctly (body position into contact), and EVERY player needs to be proficient at cleaning defenders away from the contact point and securing possesion. Emphasise rucking drills for EVERYONE. If you have a bunch of aggresive forwards plus a 10, 12 and 13 who can effectively support and secure possesion on attack and get some steals on defense, its a huge bonus. Aggression and effectiveness at the breakdown will pay HUGE dividends.

DRILL SET PIECES OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Scrums, lineouts and kickoffs should comprise 50% + of the forwards time in my mind. For the backs, 3-5 BASIC moves max. Simple stuff. No need for quadraple loop double skip type junk. Basics done well will win games.

Use touch rugby a lot. Unlimited touches until a mistake (knock on etc) is made. Play it "league" style where the ball carrier must place and roll the ball between their legs when touched. You can then modify this to teach different skills. EG touch rugby but when ball player is touched 2 attackers and defenders must step over ball/drop to a knee at contact point before ball can be played (simulates attackers being removed from attack when commiting to ruck in game situation), or when touched ball carrier must stop and turn and ball must be ripped in order for play to continue etc etc etc. Tonnes of combinations here.

Hope this helps.

Steve Shafley
05-25-2010, 09:29 AM
This season left me disgruntled and questioning whether or not to do it next year. It started off strong, with 22-23 girls coming to indoor practices, and it seemed like we lost girls every practice.

First game of the season we were down to 15, and one broke her wrist (though she came back for the last two games of the season). Another one got her calf stomped so hard that apparently a blood clot formed and she couldn't play anymore (what she said, anyway).

Some skill development occurred, and there were 3 girls who came out who liked the sport and who will be promising candidates for next season, but we ended up traveling or even playing at home with ~10-12 girls, which means we filled our roster in with girls from other teams, and thereby forfeited every game by default.

This team lacked any kind of spirit. The stand outs were my scrum half, who went from meh to pretty good, a first year prop who scored 3x by always supporting the ball carrier, and my outside center, who scored quite a bit herself, and is going on to select sides, I think.

I hate to let down the group of hardcore enthusiasts, but you can't make a team out of 8 girls, none of whom have really stepped up to lead the team.

Darren Reed
05-26-2010, 01:33 AM
Shaf, thats tough. I take for granted how lucky I was to grow up in a strong rugby culture. Kids today.....

If you decide to pursue it again, feel free to drop me a line anytime. Always happy to help.

Steve Shafley
05-27-2010, 10:05 AM
There were several factors that made this season tough all over Michigan, most notably the economy.

One of the other coaches in the state just shrugged when we were talking about it and said "Bro! They are teenaged girls!"

While funny, that's not the attitude I prefer to take. I expect a baseline of commitment if I'm going to spend my free time coaching.

Thanks, Darren. Been a bit of a vent, but, hell, the show must go on.