Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 January 2014 16:40
In rugby in general and especially youth rugby we are happy to turn out 15 players. Forming a team is not only picking 15 players, it is more making the best out of what you have got.
Which player should play on which position, matching the individual skills with the requirements of a position is the task of the coach. You should have a clear understanding of these requirements. This part of the teambuilding is called Role Clarity. It is made up of three components: Role Definition, Role Acceptance and Role Performance. Strange as it may sound, if all the players work very hard on their own performance then the team can progress to a higher level (Synergy, 1 + 1 = 3 and that stuff)
Some good examples:
- We set-up a book with different scenario's. Several options in different situations, general do's and don'ts. Guidelines for the team to pick options in different situations.
- I changed Rudy and Waldi their positions, moved Rudy always talking / frustrating players to the full-back were his kicking skills and tactical sense allowed him to play from behind. Waldi with quick hands, also a good kick could play the fly-half position. Rudy could use his insight to comment on play.
- I switched Tielrooij from the prop to the wing position, surprising The Hague first XV with his explosive power and strength scoring four tries. (Michael could not play prop due to shoulder problems).
- Tight and Loose Head Props have of course physical reasons to play on either left or right side. There is also the character aspect: the Tight Head will always be dominated, think about what kind of personality can take this.
Of course, in the Netherlands I am happy to have 15 players in my clubs Under 19 team. This means that the possibility of placing players in the right position are even more limited. I started rotating some players in different positions to a compensate the problem.
I have asked Colin Jackson to put down his thoughts on selection criteria and bringing in top players. Colin who is an accredited coach from NZ has been an at least controversial coach in a traditional Dutch rugby environment for six years. He later coached profesional teams in the UK and is now back in NZ.
Colin on Selection Criteria
"The biggest mistake coaches and club selectors make is to instigate a "NO TRAIN NO PLAY" rule. Most rugby coaches around the World operate within an amateur infrastructure and therefore players have external commitments ie: work, family or study. There are only so many professional teams where players are paid to train and play. The fastest way for a coach to lose credibility and end up with egg on his face is to introduce rules which in a perfect World are totally acceptable but in reality unenforceable. As a coach I have always explained my selection criteria with the key words - " IN PRINCIPLE."
Therefore my "in principle"selection rules are:
- Always select my best team
- If a choice has to be made between two players of equal ability then the player who attends training will be selected first.
- When dropping a player always be brutally honest - tell him he is not good enough because ..................etc etc.
- If you make promises keep them - If you promise that all the reserves will get game time then you have to meet that obligation.
- Always select a captain who will work with your ideas and rules. Make sure your captain is good enough to keep his place in the team.
Colin on the introduction of overseas players
"The golden rule for bringing in an overseas player is that he has to bring a quality to your team that is currently missing. That quality can be sheer skill, organisational ability or perhaps most important of all, training and playing ethics".
"It is so important that the overseas player understands the level of rugby that you play at and what are the club objectives. The club must contract the player in terms of his commitment and demeanour around the club. The club should always have an option to release the player if he doesn't meet their requirements".
"If the club agree to bring in a foreign player then they must meet their obligations especially with employment and accommodation. The player must feel happy and secure within his new club environment".
"Don't rely on second hand information regarding the player - always ask for a video of him playing and at least two references before you agree terms".
"I have always found that bringing overseas players into your team raises the level of the other players and creates a more professional environment".
"My biggest tip regarding overseas players is that when you get one that is top class then hang on to him for as long as possible ie long-term contract. For every top class foreign player there will be 5 others who are very moderate performers".
Forming a team of rugby mom's
For some complicated reason I was to coach a group of mothers who had kids playing in the Under 11's and Under 13's. All but one had never played rugby and we were to play a beach rugby tournament.
Piecing the team together was a lot of fun. I asked one of my friends to help out, she is a record international (and Mom) and with the one experienced mom formed the halfback pairing. It was great to explain to the team who was to play at which position and why, how I would substitute and how it should come together. I did this on the pitch showing the positions with grid markers. It was a great teambuilding exercise because everybody felt confident with choices I made and understand their roles.
I surprised the opponents with a rush-up - dog leg defense, having the winger and center tackle outside in. What really amazed me was the toughness and rugby agression that grew into the team. Obviously all the things I am used to do also worked with rugby Mom's!
Read more on the Motherruckers on their pages.
Right at the end of the season you are already too late for the start of next season..... You already should have been busy with players, dispensation, teammanagement and more.
Reasons to dispensate players up are for me physical aspects but also the learning curve of the player: is he challenged to improve himself if plays in a lower agegroup team?
More on the other elements of the teambuilding process: