March 14, 2017

Getting inside a rugby coach's mind

Written by:
Kenneth Rae

The second in our series of best reads from the coaching world is a look into rugby coach's minds, specifically some of World Rugby's top coaches. What motivates them, what philosophies do they have. Where do they see coaching evolving?

There's some really good ideas included here and makes great content to revisit down the line. The first part in the series which has reading on developing young footballers can be read here.

1. Sir Ian McGeechan talks to New Zealand's Steve Hansen about coaching the world's best team.

Ian McGeechan interviews Steve Hansen and they get deep! Geech opines that being a good coach is a direct by-product of being a good person and getting the players to feed off this energy and the culture it creates.

2. Kieran Crowley: "The big thing about New Zealand coaches is that they are very open."

Before starting his reign as Treviso boss, Kieran Crowley gave an extremely open interview where he compared Italian rugby culture and that of his homeland New Zealand. He also evaluates the differences in playing styles and approaches devised by the various coaches.

3. Eddie Jones demands mental intensity from England as Australia tour looms.

Eddie Jones has achieved immense success in his stint as England Coach that few could probably have envisaged. With his unique approach to 'saying it how it is', Jones explains how creating an environment that forces players to problem solve, perform under high pressure and learn on the run is key which, he says, comes down to having the right mental intensity.

4. Dean Ryan: "Rugby Union's rigid academies risk stifling players' freedom to enthral."

Dean Ryan has some pretty forthright views, but we liked some of the reasoning behind this viewpoint. He uses the example of two players who've not gone through the standard academy process. He mentions the perhaps clichéd term ‘overcoached’ and whether it stifles natural playing instinct and whether those who don't follow the structured academy process ultimately become more advanced 'independent thinkers'.

4. Graham Henry: In the Hours before the World Cup final you can't coach players - you have to trust them.

Henry wrote this in the week before the 2015 Rugby World Cup final revealing what goes into their preparation. He discusses opposition analysis and the explanation of how their resultant gameplan is formed. It's both illuminating and reassuring to hear a World Cup final coach trusts his players and allows them so much freedom in the build up to the game.

5. Mark McCall: Behind the Scenes at Saracens - champions of England and Europe

Mark McCall has developed the Sarries culture and one of the reasons behind this has been focussing on the level of intensity throughout a day of training. What the club has established though is a strong connection between training and relating it back to the club's goals, culture and analysis.

6. Ben Ryan - The New Woodward banging on the door.

Ben Ryan is able to provide interesting viewpoints in most interviews he gives and this is no different. Actually written in 2005, this article gives an insight into Ryan's methods in his earlier days as a coach. Clear evidence of the drive and passion that have taken Ryan from a coach making small waves in the English national leagues to taking the Sevens circuit by storm, there is lots that can be learned from Ryan.

The second part of our 'Best Reads' series. Look out for the next one shortly and please suggest further articles or subjects you feel worthy of an inclusion.

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