#RWC2019 Final | How to Prepare for a Tournament

  • October 30th, 2019
  • Tom Bean

England and South Africa have made it further than any other teams have managed, but this isn't the product of a month or so work throughout the tournament - preparations to reach this point have been ongoing for years.

Eddie Jones and Rassie Erasmus know all too well that the nature of tournament sport demands teams to peak at just the right time. One stone left unturned could be difference between becoming world champions or not; therefore the preparation leading up to any tournament is vital to time your teams peak just right.

Here are the Do's and Don'ts of tournament preparations.


Replicate tournament play in training

Tournament matches come around quickly and are often played at a quick pace with teams knowing that chances can be limited. Therefore, playing small-sided games at a high intensity is a great way to get players in the mindset of taking their opportunities. Also, this prepares them for learning from what happened in the previous game to then focus on the next one.

Set clear goals

Having a clear goal gives the team a direct focus for the tournament. During preparation however, keep the players interested and motivated with setting regular goals; these will help players recognise progress and build confidence.

The consistent and achievable goals will create a team environment which brings them together to continually strive for the next target and to accept and deal with mistakes as a group when they fail to - something which they will rely upon in the tournament.

Manage expectations

Players need to know where they stand in the coaches mind when going into a tournament. Younger players will judge their standing within the team by how long they get in the game, therefore they must know what they can realistically expect.

Throughout the tournament, you will need your full squad to be ready to play. If players expect more minutes, disharmony can develop so when called upon, players mindsets could have a detrimental effect.

Therefore as a coach, by being transparent from the start, players can digest their roles and accept it so come tournament time, they're completely focussed.


Get too technical

Habits can't be retrained in a month, so when it comes to your tournament prep, don't over complicate training. It's best to keep things simple and work on tactical aspects rather than technical skills.

Going into tournaments, make sure your players are completely comfortable and clear on the way you want them to play and their specific role in making the system work. Avoid blurring their thought-processes with complicated technical points.

Over train

It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to cram in lots of practice before the tournament starts. Firstly, you risk burn-out from your players. Overtraining and failing to reduce the intensity can cause physical fatigue for players.

Secondly, there is a chance of overloading players mentally. Keep a clear idea of two or three tactical points you want to make, have them clear in your mind and stick to them. You will relay them effectively to your players and will avoid any confusion when implementing them in training or the tournament.

Disregard parents queries

Parents always want their child to be playing more, to be having a more influential role within the team etc etc. They also have a big influence on their child's mentality, so half of managing your players comes down to managing their parents expectations too.

When parents come to you to give their opinion, however much you value it, it's important to take it onboard and relay to them why you have chosen to do what you do. Remember they will have put a lot of time, effort and likely money into their child's sport and their feelings are often translated into their child's. Therefore by being transparent and keeping them motivated, you have half the job done!

It can be tough to get your preparations right in the build up to a tournament, however by following these simple do's and don'ts, you'll soon be ready to take on the challenge.

The Rugby World Cup Final

After over a month of fierce competition (and fierce weather), England and South Africa booked their places in the final with emphatic wins against New Zealand and Wales respectively.

Now with the final looming, the coaches have done all they can to deliver their players to this point, now it's up to them. After a man-of-the-match performance against the All Blacks, Maro Itoje will look to play a vital role again for England. But whether he'll be alongside Ford and Farrell together will again be a talking point of Eddie Jones' team selection.

One of the most asked questions of the tournament - how do you tame Faf de Klerk? Small in stature yet huge in presence, the scrum-half has been the antithesis of the grunt and guile of the South African forwards which has characterized their route to the final. However, de Klerk has been the puppeteer, directing the display of strength with poise and England are cast as the next victim in his play.

The final is set to be a display of driving forward lines balanced by finesse of the back on both sides. One thing assured is, it's set to be some show.