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Looking for day 0 skills to teach children?

I am looking for a Day 0 type of session for American children who may have never held a rugby ball. If I move forward with a rugby exhibition/team creation in the neighborhood, I want to make sure I know how/what to teach Day 0. I'm hoping that interest is growing for touch and flag rugby due to the recent in Philadelphia between the USA Eagles and the Maori All Blacks. I was there. It was fantastic. Tickets sold out so fast, I think there will be more of these in the area. Thanks.

Hi Doug - we have a similar problem here in Portugal. Ive been to primary schools to work with 7-8-9 year olds who've never seen or held a rugby ball. First I let them just hold the ball and then pass it in a small circle - divide kids into groups of sya up to 10. Pass L/R. Then one player runs round the outside of the group back to his original place to see who arrives first - ball or runner! I then spread kids out into to 2 straight lines facing each other. They race to pass the ball from one end to the other. (Clever tip: if they are in a V formation facing in they will be passing backwards to the far end. Stop and all turn outwards to pass back again to tip of V - keeps passes always going backwards!)

I then put tags on them or bibs tucked into their shorts. they played the 'thief game' and had one or two mins to capture as many tags as possible from the other players in a small playing area....

We had 45 mins sessions, so we then played 5-a-side tag rugby. swapping teams after averey 3 tries. The winners stay on. The focus was on running forwards with the ball to cross the try line - and supporting the ball carrier. I went easy on forward passes to start with. As kids all play soccer here, keeping behind the ball is a real mental challenge!!

Hope this helps!

Hi Doug and Paddy,

We have 5 free tag rugby lesson plans which might be of interest to you, containing lots of ideas for beginners.

  1. Running and Passing/ Support
  2. Passing, Running and Decision Making
  3. Pass / Support and Decision Making
  4. Decision Making
  5. Tag Games Session

Hope these help and let us know how you get on.

Thank you for this. I have to keep reminding myself that in the balance between instruction and fun to lean towards fun and not get too uptight about complete rule compliance. Kids love to have a ball and run with it.  At least that's what I've seen with my own.

Hi Doug. I really encourage you to overweight the fun side of your equation.  If we can get our American kids to run with the ball, evade defenders, pass, and catch, our next generation will be that much further ahead.  If at the end of day 0 you have mostly not-forward passes, you're doing great.  Play a simple touch game--e.g., no forward passes, one-hand touch, if touched must pass right away or turnover.  Add more rules and options as the players master more.  Have fun!

A game I enjoy (with college aged women, tho almost all have never seen a rugby ball before playing) is to set up a grid and designate a way to score a point:

- put a ruck pad on either end and ball has to hit it for a point

- entire goal line is a score and player has to pass to teammate across line for a point

- can be played on a basketball court and a basket is a point

Rules start off simple and more complex ones can be added. The game stresses communication and movement (to space) above anything else and can work in identified skills.  Unfortunately, you can't use the "pass backward" rule, or else it turns into touch.

Rules for offense (some of the basics, I usually start with #1 and #2, then add along):
1. ball carrier cannot move (other than to pivot), all other players can and should
2. only rugby passes (i.e. not one-handed or overhead, etc.)
3. can only hold ball for 3 seconds
4. cannot pass back to person who passed it to you
5. once you pass the ball, you have to do a push-up/up-down before you are back in play

Rules for defense:
1. 2 handed touch (below waist)
2. once you tag offensive player, you have to run and touch goal line you are defending (this works better in touch, as it creates gaps the offense can read)

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  • search our library of 1100+ rugby drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans