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Two questions
What player did you know or think was the best passer?
What ever happened to a good pass?

Posted on 10/5/2012


Dear Reader, I would like to ask you two questions. What player did you know or think was the best passer? I would like you to think about that first question deeply; as I am sure some of us have played with or come across opponents whose passing skills left us in awe. My next question is what ever happened to a good pass? As a high school coach I am pretty amazed when I look at teams we play against and see very complex set plays and even some penalties when teams decide to take the tap and run. I have to say some of these penalty taps are well thought out and executed to precision. Some of the set pieces are picture perfect, as if out of the television screen, just as I had watched it being performed on some Saturday evening footy. In a way it is great to see, but at the same time it saddens me because these same teams have horrible passing skills. Coaches spend countless hours teaching these set pieces to perfection. Let’s think about the time frame that it takes as a coach to run through a play with the team. You first have the explanation phase, which can be quick, but we are talking about kids and brevity is rare. Then you have the run through phase, which I like to call the “coach, I have a question” phase. Players want to know where to stand, how fast to run, which space to run toward, what if this happens, blah, blah, blah. Next is the opposed phase, otherwise known as the “mistakes” phase. The biggest problem in this phase is the teaching of the play with defenders that are going to be running the same exact defense every time. Another bad thing in this phase is that you teach players to defend a one man option, but I will save all of that for another column when I write about defense. The last phase is the team run phase. Usually in this phase you have your starting players on one side opposing your replacement players in defense. If during the run you get into the situation which calls for this play, you try it, and 20% of the time it’s successful on the first try. This is an hour spent teaching a play that you will get to use 3 to 4 times in a season and possibly successful once. But what if you spent all that time teaching a good pass? I like to spend a lot of time passing and working 2 v 1’s. I have to admit that in a 31 day month of 10 practices, 6 to 7 of my practices will be passing based. In rugby you only need two skills to play, and that’s catching and passing, without it there’s no rugby. My players know that I understand there will be mistakes that happen in a match, missed tackles, bad decisions, etc. But be sure they know when they make a bad pass because I’m yelling on the touch line to another coach about it, and trust me they hear me. Even our videographer has recorded me yelling a “what the hell was that?” comment. What I ask of all my fellow coaches out there getting ready to start the season is: spend some extra time getting your players passing right. There is nothing prettier in this game then when a beautiful try is scored because of some quick, crisp passing. And believe me; let that first pass come from one of your front rowers. While shaking his hands and nodding his head, that kid will be looking towards touch at you, and you will feel just as good about it as he does. See you on the pitch. -Coach Ronnie

Code updated: 02/07/2018 13:04

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