The Race to Nowhere In Youth Sports - John O'Sullivan

“My 4th grader tried to play basketball and soccer last year,” a mom recently told me as we sat around the dinner table after one of my speaking engagements.

“It was a nightmare. My son kept getting yelled at by both coaches as we left one game early to race to a game in the other sport. He hated it.” “I know,” said another. “My 10 year old daughter’s soccer coach told her she had to pick one sport, and start doing additional private training on the side, or he would give away her spot on the team.”

So goes the all too common narrative for American youth these days, an adult driven, hyper competitive race to the top in both academics and athletics that serves the needs of the adults, but rarely the kids.

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A New Perspective - Jacob Swabrick

Having coached several seasons of club rugby and at all age groups both boys and girls;  I understand the frustration of the summer season and player priorities not always being rugby.  There is nothing worse than game day coming and a key player at a key position is nowhere to be seen.  Or knowing a player will be away and trying desperately as a coach to train another player to comprehend the skillset needed to fill in for a game or two at this position(s).

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Keith Wilkinson


For three days in September 2012, I attended a safety workshop in Mississauga for a major energy company. The workshop was led by three learning facilitators from a professional training company and I was able to compare and contrast their approach and facilitation with those of NCCP LFs.

Later in the Fall, I attended a three day CAO ( Coaching Association of Ontario) Facilitators workshop in Gravenhurst. The facilitation and approach was surprisingly similar, given the differences between corporate and sports coaching contexts.

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Policy Change - Coaches Certification Requirement for 2012 Season

Policy 4.3.10 was adjusted to the following:

All registered coaches coaching under 8 to under 10 rugby must have trained status inNCCP Community Initiation – Non-Contact Rugby. A trained status in NCCP Community Initiation – Contact Rugby or NCCP Competition Introduction Rugby or certification inNCCP Rugby Level 1 also satisfies this requirement.

All registered coaches coaching under 12 to under 16 rugby must have trained status inNCCP Community Initiation – Contact Rugby. A trained status in NCCP Competition Introduction Rugby or certification in NCCP Rugby Level 1 also satisfies this requirement.

 All registered coaches coaching under 18 to Senior must have certified status in NCCP Competition Introduction Rugby. A certification in NCCP Rugby Level 2 also satisfies this requirement.

(in effect for 2012

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Coaching Conference Notes

Of all the roles, stances and expectations that are thrust upon coaches, the most important is to be a supportive educator — inspiring, enabling, supporting and empowering. And all these are well beyond the bounds of teaching sports skill and expertise. Of all the knowledge and skills coaches are expected to have, Kidd believes that the most important is an explicit pedagogy or ‘logic model’, with a curriculum of self and social discovery, and the experience of putting these into practice. It is not enough to say we believe in sport as education. The research says that we must become much more intentional – about both the provision of opportunity, and the quality of the experience provided by sports

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The modern Rugby coach seems to have been fooled into thinking that the coaching job entails production of a generation of "multi-phase-contact, breakdown-oriented players who run around in pods, setting targets for strike runners to exploit, while the hoi-poloi of the team look to barge into rucks and tidy up loose ball.” It is not a great concept for the art, speed and fluidity of the game. There is no evidence of game sense, imagination or creativity. However, I still hear this language at practice sessions, the length and breadth of the country.

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2011 a Year in Review from RO Technical Department

2011 was a very busy year for the Rugby Ontario Technical Department with a revision of a number of major programs. On reflection we are very happy with what we have accomplished over the past 12 months however the work has only begun and we will be looking to build off of what was done this year to continue to drive Rugby forward.

Shaun and I want to wish everyone in and around the Rugby community a wonderful holiday season and a safe New Year.

We will be back in action in early 2012 ready for another great year of Rugby in Ontario and across Canada.

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Sense of the Game

How can coaches encourage “game sense” to help players read what is happening? How can coaches persuade players to assume responsibility for their actions in the pressure of a Rugby match? How can coaches underpin “Game Sense” by developing a players’ understanding of the Game and what options are available to them at any given moment?

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Developing “Game Sense“ in Rugby

Keith Wilkinson, current Master Learning Facilitator for Coach Education, former international player, coach and manager writes an excellent article further detailing how to Develop "Game Sense" in Rugby.

In the fifty years I have been involved in Rugby, the ability to “read” a game has always been prized, but often only as an afterthought.  These days, it may be called “Game Sense,” but it means the same: An ability to understand and make decisions in the heat and pressure of a Game.  

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Sealing OFF

André Watson, South Africa's refereeing boss, has spoken to referees and coaches about a slack application of the tackle law which forbids the action popularly known as 'sealing off'. He warned that referees who failed to stop sealing off risked being benched.

Sealing off occurs after a ball-carrier has been tackled and a support player or support players fall on to of the tackled player to ensure that their side can get the ball by preventing opponents from getting to it. This is against the principle of having a fair contest for the ball after a tackle.

This is contrary to Law 15 which requires arriving players to be on their feet to contest the ball.

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