The Code of Conduct brings structure to your team. Of course all your players know what to do from a tactical/technical perspective but you also need to describe how players should interact. Remember that development can be described in terms of Knowledge - Skills and Behaviour/Attitude. With the Code of Conduct you can describe the third.
The Code of Conduct is a good example of how you can bring players together to discuss the mutual expectations. The Code is something that belongs to the coaches and players. One season I had a lengthy discussion with a player about his behaviour. He saw no problem, I said "If that is acceptable in our team, I don't want to part of it". A strong statement that fired up the discussion in the whole team. (It ended with the player in question apologising in front of the whole team)
How to set up a Code of Conduct for Rugby
I hope you realise this is a team thing. Your role as the coach is to bring it all together. Set a meeting, brain-storm some ideas, finalise and document it. Once I even made all the players sign the final document. For youth coaches this will be different of course, here you are a more the Teacher that sets a standard.
When I started with goalsetting exercises I found that some of the things that where said about goals would fit more in the Code of Conduct (like "Everybody should attend more training sessions").
As the coach you should set a sort of framework for this code, sort of the minimum things that should be part of the Code. The session is an opportunity for you to express your ideas and convince players! Take this responibility. From another perspective: if it becomes clear that you want more out of the team than they are willing to deliver, it will be a signal a possible pitfall: you want more out of it then your team......
Example of a Code of Conduct
In my team we have set up the following:
I discussed "Respect" and presented the following list:
- the Referee
- your opponents
- your teammates
Off the field
We have special team polo shirts. Being part of the team is wearing these on the Sunday. I discussed the pre-match built -up (inverted U relation between anxiety and performance). Being on time is now an important part of the Code of Conduct. We do not wait anymore for players who are not on time.......
On the field
We decided how to criticise and give feedback to each other. What the role of the captain is (it turned out not much on the field: we decided that lots of his tasks are a shared responsibility). Special attention was given to how we handle new players.
We discussed when and why you can skip training:
- study for school
- but party at school?
- birthday? of family??
I always stress the responsibility towards your teammates: if the hooker is not there, we can not train the line-out, etc.
No, the document should very much be a living document. Special incidents and what came out of it should be reflected in the Code of Conduct.
So with all the players focused on a style of play, there specific functional roles and a code of conduct you have set the stage for your team to perform!