Calling all coaches! We're giving away ten copies of a new coaching resource book from the RFU, Rugby Games & Drills, which we've reviewed for you here.
How do you win a copy? It's easy! Simply read the book review below to find the answer to our competition question. Send your answers HERE.
Is "Rugby Games & Drills" best used before or during training sessions?
Entries close at 12-noon GMT on Tuesday December 27. Good luck!
Book Review - Rugby Games & Drills by Simon Worsnop
Ignoring the fact that it's endorsed by Rob Andrew, the RFU have put out a super coaching resource book ahead of this festive season.
Simon Worsnop, the National Academy fitness advisor to the RFU and current assistant coach of England's excellent U20 side, has brought together his 20 years of experience - in union and league and collated over 100 drills and practice games for aspiring coaches.
This is a good resource. You go beyond just the basic passing/tackling/rucking and really get into the specifics of team and solo running movements, body position, defensive alignment and line speed, attacking depth, and communication.
The opening chapter: 'Using Drills and Games', gives you an insight into the role of drills and games in a player's or team's training and how to maximise the effectiveness under the Teaching Games for Understanding approach, which is important to the aspiring coach's effectiveness of making the players understand how a specific drill or game may be utilised in the wider context of an actual game.
There is also an excellent 14-page final chapter on season and session planning, which is the gold dust for coaches. Often coaching resources just give you drills without really explaining how they could fit into a schedule, but this final chapter puts all the rest of the content into perspective, giving you a good idea of what is effective and when, as well as how.
The drills and games themselves cover the entire spectrum of skills and levels, and the author leaves you in no doubt as to how flexible he sees the approaches indicated: coaches are always reminded they can improvise and alter the rules slightly should they need to adapt to skill levels or ages, a crucial skill for a coach to understand early on.
Likewise you are also left in no doubt as to what the drills and games are meant to achieve, what skill sets they are meant to practice, and how they are meant to be carried out. But coaches must beware: each drill and game in its entirety takes some time to learn how to run, even more time to learn how to run effectively. It is a book to be used on downtime before you plan your sessions, not one to plan your sessions with.
There is also an excellent chapter on non-specific rugby games, a set of simple games coaches can use to improve fitness but also let the players run and relax should they need a flush-out session or just a plain old pressure-free runaround.
If there is a criticism, it is perhaps that not enough time is spent on game-plan, and how the drills and skills can be brought into this. Lower level coaches rarely have enough time for more than an hour of drills and skills per week and so perhaps some more drills for an already-chosen team to prepare for a match would have been good to have.
Nevertheless, it far outweighs much of the bits and bobs floating around the internet and is significantly more up-to-date than any of the other manuals currently floating around the market. If you are a slightly experienced coach looking to step up your sessions and find more variety, this book is a good season's worth of tips and tricks to get your players more skilful and develop their game sense.
By Danny Stephens
Danny Stephens is an IRASA Elite Level coach