Rugby, like all sports, is most enjoyable when played with skill. The core rugby skills are largely natural and not difficult to attain. However, all players need to be proficient at every skill with the possible exception of kicking.
The art of rugby is in integrating the individual skills of the players into a coordinated team effort. This requires that a player be able to determine his role at any point in time in variable situations, on the fly, and execute effectively.
It is the ‘on the fly’ aspect of decision making that proves most challenging, and satisfying, for the rugby player and coach alike. The role of the rugby coach is to train the players in the individual skills and then teach ‘reading the game’ so that they apply the appropriate skill effectively.
This requires a ‘bottom up’ approach with the individual’s core skills being the building blocks of team play. The CYRFC coaching model is a ‘player first & team second’ approach. Although skills are taught in a group environment we recognize that individuals need to be addressed as such because players will have different strengths and weaknesses and will progress at a different pace in the various skills.
A player’s size, shape, strength, speed, agility and other characteristics will influence the position(s) he will play in the game. However, the player’s basic training will always be grounded in the goal of developing ‘good rugby players’. As players develop and start graduating to particular positions their training will become more specialized. We are most fortunate to have CYRFC coaches with backgrounds in the specialized skills of every position on the pitch. Specializing in a position does not mean ‘pigeonholing’ where a player is locked into one position. Pigeonholing is counter to our purpose of developing players with a broad range of skills and experiences.
As players grow in their skills and knowledge of the game our approach will migrate from being ‘coach centered’ to ‘player centered’. A coach centered approach is where the focus is on ‘teaching’ and transfer of knowledge from coach to player. A player centered approach has a focus on ‘learning’ where knowledge is accrued through a players understanding and experiences.
At this point in a player’s development ‘do it my way’ (coach centered) becomes constraining and will retard a player’s complete understanding of the game. The player centered approach challenges a player to see the many possibilities in a situation and, through experience, he will learn different actions can produce different outcomes. In this way the player is always challenged and discovers that the players ‘own the game’.
As we challenge players we expect players to challenge themselves. This means being at every practice, working to get fitter, keeping an open mind, learning new skills or to improving old. Players will find that the old adage “You can get out only what you put in” will never be truer that at a CYRFC rugby practice.