Add context to practices with the rugby coaching pyramid

Core Skills, Functional Roles, and the Principles of Play

Rugby season has begun again here in Wisconsin. It’s a great time to reflect both on last season as well as my offseason coaching development.

In particular, I’ve been reviewing the lessons learned from my experience with Premiership Rugby Coaching Development Scholarship. One lesson that stands out it is the importance of teaching the players the reasons for practicing a particular skill or playing a certain game.

So this season I’ve decided to start putting practice sessions in the context of the Principles of Play:

  • Contest possession
  • Go forward
  • Support
  • Continuity
  • Apply pressure
  • Score

The principles of play are a standard part of the World Rugby coaching curriculum and are great to use as a theme for rugby practices. But recently I’ve been wondering where they fit with other parts of the curriculum like core skills (run, catch, pass, kick, evade) as well as the functional roles (tackler, ball carrier, decoy runner, etc.) on a rugby team.

As you can see above, I created a simple pyramid wherein the core skills are used to perform the functional roles. In turn, the functional roles are used in the principles of play.

I’ll be introducing the rugby coaching pyramid today at practice and plan to use it to bring context to all my sessions.

Turnover Time

I’d love to hear how you bring context to your coaching sessions. Drop a note in the comments below with any ideas for introducing context to your training sessions — both those that worked well and those that failed!

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