USA vs All Blacks Analysis: Try 2

2014 marked the historic occasion of the All Blacks taking on the USA Eagles for just the forth time ever and for the first time on US soil.  From a coaching point of view it provides an interesting prospect for analysis.


Over the next week or so we will be publishing a series of articles analysing the difference between the best team in the world and a team struggling with a mix of player experience and preparation time.  Today we will just look at one try in particular.

In many ways the second try scored by the All Blacks was the perfect example of the differences between the two nations.  I often joke with some coaching friends about the “super secrets” that teams like the All Blacks have. The very notion that simply hearing an All Blacks coach speak for example will give you the magic which you currently lack is completely ridiculous. The All Blacks do the exact same things any under 15 team should be able to do. They just do them faster and “better”.

Rugby Fitness Coach Certification July Enrolment Open

The Rugby Fitness Coach (RFC) Certification is the foundation course in our Physical Preparation Certification Structure.  It is aimed at rugby coaches, players, strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers who are involved in coaching the physical preparation of rugby players.

UPDATE: We can confirm that 5 additional spots are now available for our July course. If you want to enrol, do so as soon as you can to avoid missing out. When we opened up the course initially we filled the available spots within 72 hours.

In July we will be presenting this certification in a completely new manner, which you can read more about below.

There are no pre-requisites for this certification and it forms day one of the two-day Rugby Strength & Conditioning Coach (RSCC) Certification (day 2 can be completed at a later time).

There are 9 modules in this certification covering:


  1. Introduction to the IRCA and the Physical Preparation Certifications
  2. Rugby: The game and demands
  3. Athlete Assessment & Management
  4. Energy System Development
  5. Speed & Agility
  6. Flexibility & Mobility
  7. Warm-Up & Cool Down
  8. Recovery & Miscellaneous Topics
  9. Practical Nutrition
  10. Planning & Periodization for Rugby


In the past we have run our rugby fitness certifications in one of two ways. Either live in-person one day sessions, or as a recorded ‘study at your own pace’ recorded lecture series.  This month we will be basically combining the two. The sessions will be conducted as LIVE webinars.  Of course, if you can’t make a live session recordings will be made available.

The big advantage of these live sessions is not only can questions be addressed in real time, but previous sessions can be recapped and any questions addressed also.

The plan is conduct a 1-1.5 hour live session, twice per week for four weeks.  This will cover the 8 hours content normally covered in one day in-person.

By covering less each day it will make completing the certification workbook requirements much easier as you could realistically fill it out each session and not need to spend weeks trying to find the motivation to fill it out at home after attending a course.

Before each webinar you will be able to download all course notes and the unit assessment so that you can follow along with the live session and address any questions either at that webinar, any subsequent webinars or in a private discussion forum.  Remember if you can’t attend a session live, all sessions will be available to download within hours of the live session being completed.

One point that we have already been asked about is time zones. If timezones concern you with “live” training, we will survey each participant before setting the times and we are open to running each webinar twice for say a Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere appropriate timezone.

Due to this being in part a technological experiment, this month’s enrolment will be limited to 10.  And one of those spots has already been filled by an IRCA staff member who is undertaking the course (Please note: we notified our waiting list about enrolments being opened 2 days before this post was published, so there may be even fewer spots left buy the time you read this).

In addition to limited enrolments, we will also be offering a discount on the certification. Having never conducted a certification using live webinars, we can’t be certain that process will be flawless. As a result we will be offering a $50 discount on the certification for all enrolees.

For non-members the total cost of the certification will be $147 (USD) . IRCA Members can access their discounted price of $97 (USD) in the Members Store inside the Members Area.  As always you will have six months to complete all assessment requirements and as it is a “virtual” course the practical assessment will not apply.  There will be the usual multiple-choice and short answer requirements, plus a four week training plan.

To register simply click the button below, or if you have any questions please contact us here.
Add to Cart

This is a quick video explaining the three ways to log in to the member’s area. If you aren’t a member and would like to learn more click here.

The login URL mentioned can be found here.


“Three Common Skill Errors of Goal Kicker”
by Stuart Lierich

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

KickBuilder Podcast
30 May, 2014

Our good friend Stuart Lierich has released another episode in his “KickBuilder Podcast”. Well worth a look.

Website & Email Back Online

Our server migration appears to be completed and our email is back online. There will be plenty of changes made now we are back online, but one step at a time.

The Simplest Way To Expand Your Lineout Options

Devising a lineout strategy is a balancing act.  You need to take in account the time you have available and the ability of your players, then balance that against creating enough variety to get the job done.

At most sub-elite levels of rugby, teams will have a combination of “short” and “full” lineouts. And more often than not that combination is a 7 man, a 5 or 6 man and a 3 or 4 man.

Three lineouts is usually enough, but what about days when your 7 man option isn’t working? Certain situations require the “full” lineout.

Well the simplest way to expand your options is not to add more lineouts and confusing players with even more calls, but rather to change the spacing within the lineout.  The simple 7 man lineout can be transformed into countless variations while most importantly keeping your base call structure.

Here are some examples:

A Basic “7” Man Lineout

7 Man Rugby Lineout

A “Full” 7 Man Lineout

A 7 Man Lineout with Even Spacing


7 Man Rugby Lineout

7 Man Rugby Lineout Even Spacing

A 7 Man Lineout with 5-2 Split

7 Man Rugby Lineout

7 Man Rugby Lineout 5-2 Split

A 7 Man Lineout 3-1-3 Split

7 Man Rugby Lineout

7 Man Rugby Lineout 3-1-3 Split

7 Man Lineout 2-3-2 Split

7 Man Rugby Lineout

7 Man Rugby Lineout 2-3-2 Split


A major advantage of variations such as these is that there can be mismatches created before the lineout starts for quick throws.  They provide an alternative and progression when on a particular day things aren’t working.  The deafult 7 man lineout not working? Switch it up to a 3-1-3 variation. All that changes is the spacing.

The content above is an small excerpt from our previous members webinar “An Attacking Lineout Playbook”. If you found this helpful and would like access to the entire 38 minute webinar, you can get it here for a mere $9.95.  Click here to buy.

How To Improve Your Rugby Coaching With A Better Feedback Framework

Today we have a post from Stuart Lierich of the Rugby Kicking Institute. Stuart is an internationally regarded professional rugby kicking coach that has worked at all levels of rugby with both players and coaches alike and was one of the very first coaches to achieve the status of an IRCA Elite Graded Coach. Stuart has also been kind enough to offer all new or renewing Full IRCA members who join in May a complementary six month membership to the Rugby Kicking Institute

Coach, ever had a feedback check-up?

Now on the surface, that may appear somewhat of a confronting question, given that you are an experienced rugby coach. You’re the ‘fountain of knowledge’ for your players and the more you speak, the more they learn, right?

Ah wrong.

Over these past few years, with rugby coaching becoming more recognised as a profession requiring many sub-disciplines, much research has been devoted to coaching behaviours and effectiveness on learning & retention.

If we truly exist (as I know you are!) for the benefit of our players (improved performance), then aside from some other behaviours, we should investigate our use of feedback when prescribing coaching interventions or simply communicating with our athletes.

The short video below will highlight the benefits of delivering your feedback within a framework that will allow your players to attend to what is most important. It is a framework that prevents overload & over-coaching, essentially removing mental clutter allowing you both to move forward. In particular you will discover:

* How To Use Bandwidth Feedback In Your Coaching
* Importance Of Regulation (type and amount)
* Less Talking & More Observation = Better Players

Sound Interesting? It’s an Evidence Based Approach & It Works!


Kicking Is A “Whole Of Body Movement”

As a Professional Kicking Coach, I’ve literally witnessed thousands of kick attempts, both from the tee and in general play.

As you’d appreciate, with any observation of a skill in volume, you develop an eye for the working parts. You also get to to see patterns form in the observations of various groups on the ‘development spectrum’.

One particular aspect of kicking (and the coaching of the skill) is to consider how a kick is constructed. What’s important for the body to do in order to be effective?

So here is a general overview of an important concept you must take on board when working with your players. I will at this point suggest it is an evidence based approach that WILL help you and your kickers.

As the title of this blog posts suggests, the skill is performed by the ‘whole of body’. A kick is not, therefore, merely a swing of the leg.

[Tweet “Kicking is a ‘Whole Of Body Movement’, not just a swing of the leg”]

In particular, we should consider, that there are various body segments that move or rotate during a kick. It is our job as coaches to train those segments to work as team and in the right order. These will be the movement sequences of an effective kicker.

Those players that kick this way have developed very good system and process.

After all, that’s what consistently good kicking is, even under pressure with time constraints. Whole Of Body appears as Smooth, Fluent, Controlled and Efficient. Yes you know the players!

Compact is also another term to describe this way of kicking. To only rely on leg power alone is like driving a truck with a mini engine. Too much effort is required from only a small part of the kicking formula.

[Tweet “To only rely on leg power alone is like driving a truck with a mini engine”]

Aside from missing the opportunity to transfer momentum through the body, kicking with leg power also risks accuracy as well, with many players creating a ‘park brake’ and anchoring effect with their support foot.

So as a coach, you must allow yourself to transition into this mindset, for it is one of the keys to player improvement. I guarantee this…

Please watch the short video presentation below for a more detailed description and how you can begin to implement this with your team at any level..

You can also scroll the arrows below to view in slide presentation format:

By Stuart Lierich

Rugby Coaching Drill: Seven-sided Tackle Drill

One piece of feedback we always get, is that many coaches want to see what other drills and activities other coaches find valuable. To that end we will begin publishing a variety of activities and drills over the next few months. Today we begin with a basic 1 on1 tackling drill.

This drill is not a Panacea, nor is any drill for that matter, as you only get out what you put in.  However, done well this activity produces some great results in technique, confidence and while being a relatively closed drill it translates to game situations.

Defensive Sessions throughout the Annual Cycle

It’s important to find actives (ie drills and games) that produce the outcomes that you want.  For my own coaching this 7 sided tackle drill is one such activity. This drill is actually one I use close to year-round.  It wouldn’t be used in the early preparation period and might be modified during the mid-late competitive period (down to 5 tackles instead of 7) but otherwise it’s there every Tuesday.

As a guideline defensive sessions and progressions might be structure like this in the annual plan.

Early Preparation Period

  • Closed Tracking
  • Open Tracking
  • Tackle Technique

Late Preparation Period

  • Open Tracking
  • Tackle Technique
  • Closed Tackling

Pre-Competitve Phase

  • Closed Tackling
  • Open Tackling
  • Mini blocks of Open Tracking and Tackling Technique to be used when required

Competitive Phase

  • Closed Tackling (Reduced Volume, High Intensity)
  • Open Tackling (Reduced Volume, High Intensity)
  • Mini blocks of Open Tracking and Tackling Technique to be used when required

Illustrated it would look something like this:

Rugby Coaching Defence Periodization

Annual Periodization for 1 on 1 Tackling Development

Ok, you probably didn’t come here for a theoretical look at annual periodization so here is the drill.  If you have any comments, questions or content requests please leave them in the comments below.

3 Offside Touch Games for Conditioning

Game based conditioning (sometimes called short-sided games) is a very popular way to perform energy system development work in rugby players.  It creates a competitive environment that not only develops conditioning but uses skills under fatigue and is also fun for the players, who may need a mental break from more traditional conditioning methods.  These methods are appropriate for players of all ages and levels, and might provide a great opportunity for younger age groups that need conditioning work to be competitive but with coaches wishing to avoid the “look” of  a hard fitness session in the traditional sense.

All too often coaches adopt an all or nothing mentality, ignoring the common sense middle.  Coaches may only use games for conditioning or they may never use them.  Neither is probably correct. It is important to remember that game based conditioning should form part of a more complete physical preparation program and is inappropriate to be used as the sole component of your conditioning program.

Likewise, the timing of such activities is important and should take place in the late stages of the preparation period.

These games are to be used in one session.  Play the first version, rest, the second version, rest again and finally the third version.

Don’t perform this as a “one-off” session, rather include the games for a 3-4 week block, progress by modifying the time periods.

As an example:
Week 1: 5 mins/game, 3 mins rest
Week 2: 6 mins/game, 2.5 mins rest
Week 3: 7 mins/game, 2 mins rest

The rest is important to ensure the intensity of the games is maintained.

It is also remember it is really the responsibility for whoever is refereeing the game to push the players hard to keep the intensity high.

What to do during rest?

It is important that the rest is essentially rest (ie don’t add another drill in that time period), however 9 minutes lost to ‘rest’ is a lot in a 90 minute session.  Include a few seconds for water but put the rest of time to use.  Instead of talking for 10 mins at the start or end of this session, use this period for team communication or add correctives.  Physical correctives would be good and so would skill correctives such as stationary passing or pistols/shotguns (whatever you call them).

The Field

These games work best when performed across a rugby field with the sidelines serving as try lines.  For width you don’t want the field too wide. 20m is about ideal so from the try line to 22m line would work very well. You could get three games with heaps of space in between on one rugby field (Try-22m, 10m-10m, 22m-Try).

rugby coaching

Rules of Offside Touch

The following rules apply to all versions below:

  1. RUGBY passes only! Any overhead passes or other variations result in a turnover.
  2. Any dropped ball results in a turnover
  3. First pass MUST be backwards, subsequent passes can obviously go forward. This includes after turnovers etc
  4. Touches must be two hands to count
  5. Upon turnover defending team becomes attacking team and furthest try line becomes their try line. You don’t always run the same way.
  6. If a try is scored and not all members of scoring team are within the 15m, the try will not be awarded and the ball will be turned over.  This is a killer rule and mainly used as the activity is being used for conditioning.
  7. Obviously, there is no kicking.

Rule 6 Illustrated

All Red players are within the attacking 15m when the Red player scores, therefore the try is counted.

rugby coaching drills

One Red player has not managed to reach the 15m zone when the Red player placed the ball, therefore the try is not counted.

The Versions Used Here

All versions will be played with the same numbers of players per team, 7 is ideal but it will really depend on your numbers. Equal numbers per team is important.  In a future post we will explain the best way to group your players to create equal teams.

1. Regular Offside Touch

This version is played under regular offside touch playing conditions. The only addition to the rules above is that each team gets 3 “touches” to score or the ball is turned over.

2. Partnered Offside Touch

This version is probably the most physically intense and can really blow open, especially after 5-7 minutes of touch in the first round.  The major modification of this version is that each player is partnered with a player from the other team.  The partnered players are the only ones who can “touch” each other.  If you play 7 per side, 6 players are completely unable to do anything on defence if the ball carrier gets away from their partner.  This results in a high paced game with lots of scoring and turnovers.  Again 3 “touches” per possession.

3. Hit The Deck Offside Touch

We now revert to a form that looks very much like regular offside touch.  Any player can touch any player etc. The modification here is that whenever the defence makes a touch, ALL defenders must drop the the ground (ie chest hits the ground) and return to their feet as quickly as possible before resuming defending.  This essentially creates a defence-free period after a touch and produces a fast game.  There are only 2 touches per possession in this version.

This program is quite a good game based conditioning set up but performance and value will, like all game based methods, be skill dependant.  Adding criteria such as rule 6, creates an environment where all players have to work while not requiring high tech systems like GPS.

If you have any questions or would like to share your favourite conditioning games, please leave them in the comments below.