Rugby training is an opportunity to pass on key concepts of the game to kids and to increase their understanding of particular aspects of the game. However, it is important to recognize that kids play rugby as a means of having fun as much as for the technical benefits, and introducing the game through enjoyable activities is important for any coach of junior teams.
Bulldogs is a worthwhile warm-up game for kids to play before a training session, teaching them to run angles and to tackle without having to focus on a ball. Kids line up on one touchline of a pitch, facing the other touchline. Ten percent of the total number of players, for example three if the group totals 30, are nominated as bulldogs and stand between the touchlines. When they call themselves as ready, all the other players must attempt to get to the other touchline without being tackled. Those who are tackled become bulldogs and have to stop their teammates from crossing the pitch. The game ends when all players have been tackled, but the game becomes particularly fun when only four or five players remain.
Touch rugby is a great way to teach kids the basics of rugby and to get them running lines and plays without having to worry about tackling and the dangerous aspects of the game. Split children into equal sides of approximately six to eight per side. The game should be played on a pitch of normal width to encourage expansive play, but of around half the length to keep the game space confined. Each side gets five touches to score. After five touches are used up, possession goes over to the defending side. Opponents make a touch by tagging an attacking player's torso with both hands, and this is the only contact permitted. The focus should be on players passing the ball and using the full width of the pitch to work numerical advantages, as well as to use tactical changes in direction to fool opponents.
Donkey is a perfect way to teach kids the art of place kicking while promoting healthy competition. Split kids into groups of three or four and give them one ball each. The lead player in each group chooses the spot for the first attempt at the posts. Each player has to complete the kick, with each missed kick accruing a letter from the word "Donkey." Those who have completed the first kick move onto a second spot, picked by the first person to have successfully converted the first kick. The game continues until only one player remains and the rest are donkeys.
- Lucian Coman/Hemera/Getty Images