Being the best at the basics is a mantra that the All Blacks live by, whilst Paul O’Connell, when British & Irish Lions captain, wanted the squad to be “the best at everything that requires no talent”. Our approach to positional play and specifically the development of position-specific skills and understanding looks to build on these simple principles.
Reaching the top of the representative or professional game is very hard to do and even your maximum rugby potential as an individual is impossible to achieve without the basic skills, game intelligence, work ethic and attitude to underpin it. Each position, like the individuals playing in it, is different and requires a unique combination of skills to be developed. However, a willingness to learn, work hard and show long term commitment to improvement are the foundation blocks for this essential learning process.
At every PSA Rugby Academy and Clinic, we look to not only introduce, develop, assess and improve core position-specific skills, we also look to positively test, in game-based scenarios, the commitment of all our players to using and perfecting these vital skills.
What are the key learning objectives for each group age?
For this age group, where positions are not yet fixed, it is all about developing general core rugby skills. Our coaching teams focus on honing the catch pass, tackle, ball carrying and breakdown techniques. These are the pillar skills of rugby (and the basis of our programme assessments) through the age grades. Producing players with excellent core skills and a good understanding of where and how to execute them is the key objective of our programme.
At this age group level, players have started to adopt defined positions. Because of this, the programme focus reflects this by delivering sessions splitting backs and forwards, in addition to full team game situations. With a broad mix of players from different playing backgrounds, the underlying focus on our 4 pillar skills remains. However, these pillar skills are practiced and executed in more complex game-focused settings. In the backs, we look to assess and develop not only kicking technique, covering all types of kicks, but also skills specific to counter attack phases.
In the forwards, we work very hard to ensure the set piece fundamentals are in place and developed. That ensures the technical skills for all positions and roles in the scrum and lineout are covered. It is important, that with the professional rugby background of all of our coaching team, that young players who may not have received a significant amount of technical position-based coaching get the maximum benefit from the PSA Rugby Academy programme in this area.
At the Advanced level, we can be and are very specific in the skills that we look to cover and develop within our programme. This extends to a longer list of skills, both by position and game phase, with these including;
Scrummaging roles and technique
Ball control and clearance
Lineout roles and technique
Defensive – box Kicking, punting and spiralling
Attacking – kicks on the run, grubbers and chips
High ball receipt
Counter Attack (including identifying space, passing & communications)
Footwork and agility