After the mandatory warm-up lap, 4 corners drill, passing waves and forwards / backs split, most rugby trainings will end with the traditional ‘Team Run.’ A Team Run is where the starting 15 goes through all their plays from different points of the pitch, generally starting from a scrum or lineout. Team Runs are usually unopposed, but sometimes reserves (5-7 players if you’re lucky) hold hit shields for attackers to run past. The team will spend about 30 mins perfecting their set plays, then training is over.
But Team Runs are a waste of time and this is why.
Team Runs are usually done without opposition. Playing against the wind doesn’t help players make decisions. They need defenders in front of them.
Team Runs only account for 25% of a rugby game - Attack from scrum and lineout. They don’t account for Defence (50%) or random ball sources (such as kicks, turnovers, opposition mistakes - 25%).
Team Runs are based on perfection - where players need to be in the right place at the right time. But perfection virtually never happens in a match as line-breaks are made, extra players get pulled into rucks, players might be late to get into position, players make mistakes or lose the ball. They need the opportunity to cope with randomness.
Team Runs allow players to gain unrealistic meters, where the team is always moving forward. They run 10m with the ball, before falling on the ground and doing the perfect staple to place the ball back.
Team Runs lead to robotic players. Once players have learnt a new set play or system (usually after 5-10 mins) they will start going through the motions unless they are stimulated and put under pressure. Unopposed Team Runs for 20 weeks in a row does nothing for growth. And the reserves are often forgotten about and end up as bored as a bat.
So that’s that. You only have your players for a limited amount of time each week, so consider how you can enhance the development of your players. Set up practices that have opposition, allow players to make decisions, and replicate the realities of the match.
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