I have been developing a schoolboy Rugby Program over the past 13 years. What I have tried to create over this period is a comprehensive coaching program that can add value to both the player and coach.
The first version was made available to Selborne College in 2008 when I served as the Master-in-charge of Rugby. It was then developed further during my time at St Andrew’s College as the Director of Rugby (2010 – 2014).
The current version of this program has been developed over the past five years while I have been at Grey High School. I have until recently been the Head of Rugby at the school (2016 – 2020). I have now moved into a full-time teaching position.
What I would like to do in this post is to share some of these ideas with you. I trust that there are some things that you will be able to implement or use to enhance your own rugby program.
The program was made available to all our players and coaches via the school’s intranet. I have shared some screenshots of the program (throughout this post) to illustrate some of the things that have been covered.
The following Strategy Map was drawn up for the school in 2017. One of the outcomes of this strategy map was to be “unbeaten in the Eastern Cape” (Eastern Province and Border regions). In our last full season, before Covid, we achieved this outcome with the following top sides: U15A, U16A and 1st XV. The last time this was achieved at a 1st XV level was in 2008.
Rugby at Grey High School
We were ranked 5th on the combined school rugby rankings (14A, 15A, 16A, and 1st XV) for 2019 according to SA School Sports. In 2018 we were ranked 7th. “Better results” was another important outcome of our Strategy Map. These improved results were a proud achievement for the school.
The entire program was built around the use of a common Rugby Language i.e. a calling structure that all our teams could use. This would then be used to create continuity between our teams as they came through the system.
This Rugby Language extended into the use of common Coaching Principles and Language to create further continuity. It was important for the players to not become confused by coaches using different terms for the same thing. It also allowed us to use it as a platform to introduce new ideas and trends.
An Age-Group Specific Coaching Curriculum was drawn up to ensure that there was a minimum requirement for each age group to get through in each season. This would then create a platform for the next coach and would achieve continuity between our teams. Our unique Grey High School Rugby Language was used as a foundation to build this curriculum.
An internal communication mechanism for the coaches was introduced called Coach Talk. I have shared some of these issues on my blog https://coachtalk.wordpress.com/. A wide variety of coaching topics were shared with the coaches through this form of communication.
A set of Coaching Cards was put together to assist the coaches in their delivery to the players. The idea behind them was to reduce the preparation time for a coach. Often as a teacher one does not have enough time to research a drill or plan adequately for a session.
These cards form part of the drills section in the Rugby Program and include video examples. I have made them available for download on my blog https://coachtalk.wordpress.com/coaching-cards/.
We tracked the top 100 players in the system i.e. 20 players from each age group.
A set of Core Skill Analysis drills were conducted each season with this group of players. A database of the video footage was put together. I have shared what these tests entailed under this section https://coachtalk.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/core-skill-analysis/.
This enabled us as coaches to see how a player was developed by identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The archived footage assisted us in this process of continuous improvement. This would then provide the coach in the next age group with information.
The Player’s Performance Profile was a subjective process implemented to track the development of our top players as they move through the age groups. I have made reference to this profile under my selection post - https://coachtalk.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/selection/. A rating of a player’s performance ability was conducted by the coach and the player. It created a nice way of providing feedback.
Position-Specific Training was something that we were able to introduce to improve our program. This gave our players the opportunity to work with past or present professional players. Some of the coaches that we were able to utilize in this capacity have been: Michael Willemse, Barend Pieterse, CJ Velleman, Ivan Ludick, Kevin Luiters, Jarryd Buys, Basil De Doncker, and Chumani Booi.
For an example of some additional areas that have been covered in the Rugby Program, I have included the following sections on Attack and Defence.
The school currently uses EncodePro video analysis software http://www.encodepro.co.za/html/rugbymain.html. A number of our matches played by our top age-group teams were coded. A full code was done for our 1st XV matches. A classroom was utilized as a viewing facility with five dedicated computers.
I trust that there has been a couple of ideas that you can use to assist your current rugby program. I look forward to being able to assist you, if there are areas that you would like me to share more information on. Drawing up a schoolboy rugby program is an ongoing and continuous process. I don’t feel that I will ever reach a point of where I can say it is complete.