MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota Youth Rugby welcomed former New Zealand All Blacks coaches Graham Henry and Wayne Smith for a coaching clinic at the University of Minnesota Sat., Nov. 30, in conjunction with The Rugby Site and USA Rugby.
Henry and Smith partnered for a total of seven years at the helm of the All Blacks, from 2004 through the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup-winning campaign. The two continue to coach as technical advisors of Super Rugby clubs Blues (Henry) and Chiefs (Smith).
More than 150 participants from across the country converged on The University of Minnesota. Coaches in attendance earned 10 USA Rugby Professional Development Credits and a one-year subscription to The Rugby Site, a collection of informational videos and strategies from the world’s top players and coaches.
Coaches at all levels learned from the Kiwi greats, who stressed the importance of preparation.
“One of your key roles as a coach is team awareness and focusing on key things each week to make the boat go faster on Saturday,” Henry said. “Every time you are in front of [players] you can make a difference . . . they will never stop learning.”
To help with preparation, the coaches were also led through a video analysis session. They focused on identifying and analyzing Try Scoring Trends, including starting platform, types of passes, how many passes, number of phases, and others. Smith presented statistics and data from the 2013 Super Rugby season. The top five possession platforms from which teams scored tries last season: 1) lineouts; 2) turnovers won; 3) scrum; 4) kick return; and 5) quick-tap penalties.
The defensive lesson focused on cues and “picking the fights you can win.” The emphasis stressed effective counter ruck cues and turning over the ball in the tackle contest. These turnovers were critical in turning defense into attack, the second-best possession platform for scoring tries.
Henry and Smith complimented Minnesota Youth Rugby for having a presence in the community. They believe it is an important attribute of successful Rugby clubs and organizations.
“Know who you are, get up every day and put your body down for them,” Smith said.
“We’re so honored to have such a rare opportunity to elevate the level of coach education in our own community,” Minnesota Youth Rugby Director of High School and Youth Rugby Katie Sjeklocha said.