rugby for beginners

Doesn’t every budding rugby player dream of being an All Black one day? Aaron Cruden has put together a few simple tips for kids and parents new to this great game.

attitude rules

To play rugby at any level, you need to work hard on the skills needed to play your position, but you should also work on basic skills that will help you succeed in the game, both individually and as a member of a team. Some of it is physical, of course, but a lot of what makes rugby players good — even great — is all in your head, and it starts with your attitude.

As in every sport, winning isn’t the most important thing when you’re learning rugby. It’s enough to want to play well and to have the will to succeed. That means trying your hardest, both in your games and also at training. Set high standards for yourself: Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for what you do. Get in the habit of working hard. If you and your teammates all do this, then you’ll probably succeed. But if you’re beaten by a better team, don’t try to make excuses. Be a good sport and congratulate them on playing well. Above all, enjoy yourself!

Books about rugby sometimes leave out the need for players to understand the game. This is pretty basic if you want to be a good rugby player. Understand the rules, understand how to play the game, understand what a game plan is, and understand what rugby can do for you! Some of it you will find out for yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask other players what they know — older players like your dad or your brothers or your coach, and younger players like your teammates, and even your opponents!

master the basics

For you to perform well at any level of rugby, you must develop a number of skills. Becoming a skilled player begins with mastering the basics. Over time, your skills and techniques will progress, allowing you to apply those skills in increasingly competitive situations.

here are five principles for your skill development:

  • Make sure you keep the fun in rugby.
  • Train and compete at a level that’s right for your age.
  • Develop a foundation of solid techniques — passing, catching, kicking — and continually work on these.
  • Keep competition in perspective. Look at each game as a step on a journey and don’t worry too much about the result.
  • Don’t set your heart on playing any particular position, because sometimes you end up playing — and being best at — a position you never dreamed you’d play.

tackling know-how

You can only tackle the ball-carrier (the person who has the ball in their hands). Tackling can be done by anyone, no matter what position they are playing.

In a lot of other games — like rugby league and American football, for example — everything stops when a tackle has been completed. Rugby is different. When you’re tackled, you can play the ball immediately. That means you can throw it to a teammate (backwards, of course)
or, if you’re close enough to the goal line, you can reach out and place it over for a try. But if you can’t play the ball immediately, you have to release it, that is, let go of it. Ideally, you should release the ball in such a way that your team stands a good chance of getting their hands on it.

You’re allowed to place the ball behind you. Your teammates should be there to pick it up, and the game carries on.

Reproduced with permission from The Beginner’s Guide to Rugby by Aaron Cruden. Published by Random House NZ.
Text © Aaron Cruden, 2015. RRP $34.99.

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