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”.

How To Add 10m To Your Kick | Webinar Recording

As a travelling Specialist Rugby Kicking Coach, about the most common question I’ve fielded in the past 12 months has been:

“How Can My Players Add Distance To Their Kicks?”

As you can appreciate, there is no definitive answer to this question.

But, there is a particular piece of ‘Magic” that a player needs to demonstrate to achieve better field position, maximum gains to the sideline AND convert gaols from further out.

Can you guess what it is?

I answered this question in a webinar that I have recorded and uploaded for the benefit of you and your team.

This is entirely applicable for the football codes of Rugby Union, Rugby League, Australian Rules Football & Gaelic Football.

Masterclass – Preferred Kicking Grips

It is an understatement for me to suggest that kicking grips are over-rated.

What, I hear you say?!

Well, I mean for all the instruction on how to hold the ball, we are far more effective if we coach the player to ‘manipulate’ the ball into the correct position on the foot.

So, I’m saying it’s more important how the ball releases and contacts than how it’s held.

You see, if a player uses an unorthodox method to grip the ball for a punt, yet makes great field position consistently, I have no right to change it if it works.

BUT, (yes, disclaimer)…..

It must be said that in my time I’ve witnessed coaches offering a multitude of grip suggestions to players, many of which don’t support the notion of clean release, ball alignment and exposing ideal contact point for kick choice. Not to mention, many are ‘risky’ when it comes to the above mentioned elements.

If a player is yet to develop self awareness they will be best served working with a grip that allows for quick, clean release with minimal disruption to the release path of the ball.

As a coach, your job is to monitor the quality of contact and prescribe changes ONLY if you believe the grip is effecting the outcome.

While there is no perfect grip, there are most certainly grips for most kick choices that facilitate the desirable outcome of allowing clean release to the kicking foot.

It is your ability as a coach to design and deliver practice sessions that ‘build’ the adaptability of a player’s grip to the needs of a situation…

The video below is a response to a recent coach publication and resource distributed by a Top 10 National Rugby Union.

I am disappointed to say that the majority (maybe all?) of governing body resources for kicking are well (understatement) below par and lack the practicalities of kicking efficiently and effectively. Rant over.

To be taken as a guide only.


By Stuart Lierich

The Aerobic Solution [Member Content]

The three biggest issue facing rugby coach and players in their physical preparation are:

  1. Limited practice time
  2. Finding effective and relevant protocols
  3. Individualising the training across a broad range of athletes.

The Aerobic Solution solves these very problems by presenting training solutions as used by professional teams and adaptable to any rugby player or club.

All backed not only by extensive practical application by also vigorous scientific research with some extremely surprising results.

This masterclass contains three components:

  1. A 95 minute video covering the why and how to use these methods of training
  2. A 25 page ‘execution’ plan designed to just provided the practical guidelines for using this programming
  3. A Excel spreadsheet based calculator to take all the manual work out of calculating times and distances for the training.

Download the Aerobic Solution Video

Download the Aerobic Solution Execution Guide


Download the IRCA MAS Calculator



August Research Review [Member Content]

Each month we review a piece of research that is applicable to rugby. Either by using rugby players as subjects, or other athletes but the outcomes are directly applicable to rugby players.

The goal of these reviews is to take a piece of research and provide a practical, actionable outcome for all rugby players and coaches.

Goal Kicking Technique Analysis Aug 2014 – Leigh Halfpenny

Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it an analysis, as such.

More like I’m going to take a small aspect of Leigh Halfpenny’s kicking technique and discuss it with you.

In this member’s area we pay a lot of attention to kicking smoother, rather than harder.


Not to mention kicking from a ‘framework’ that will serve you from any angle (and distance) of attempt.

So for this moth’s case study, I’m calling it “Smooth, with Leigh Halfpenny”…

(MasterClass) Rugby Kicking & The Punt Grip

Welcome to this month’s member’s MasterClass.

Whilst seemingly an uncomplicated topic, this area of kicking is so important to creating effective outcomes.

Let’s face it, you can be well conditioned, move fluently & make good decisions; BUT if you’re not able to create sweet & controlled contact between ball and foot, you’re results will be no more than a lottery!

Whilst I don’t believe that coaches should be fixated on one particular type of punt grip for kicking, it is worthwhile us covering off on some considerations and consequences…It Will Make A Difference!!

When it comes to kicking in rugby, quite simply, we are talking about hitting targets under pressure. 

Although there are a number of reasons your players may not punt effectively, most commonly there is an identifiable issue in how the ball is released to foot. Let’s look a little closer,

  • How a player manipulates the ball release is more important than how they grip it before release.
  • There is no perfect grip

Having said that, there is of course a framework that players should consider when looking for consistently good contact under pressure. If we can present the sweet spot to the contact point on the foot with the least amount of ‘ball distraction’, then we’re more likely to achieve good results.

‘Quality of Contact’ should underpin all of your coaching interventions. Even if a player doesn’t quite make distance or accuracy required, be sure to establish contact quality first. It is a pillar for your observations & their development.

Generally if contact is good, then grip and release are good and your answer lies elsewhere.

*Warning: The role of grip/release is to assist the ball to ‘arrive’ on correct part of kicking foot for control & accuracy.

Watch the video below for some important points to consider for punt grip for your players:

By Stuart Lierich