Panicking Yr 10 Rugby Players

I am becoming more and more aware of the decisions that I make when setting tasks having a major impact on the level of challenge, and subsequently the progress being made by the pupils.

It isn’t good enough for pupils to just ‘be on task’ or engaged with an activity…they have to be learning, and learning at the greatest possible rate.

Today, I was taking a year 10 lesson with the support of our new rugby specialist, John (see post on Culverhay through the eyes of an undergraduate). One of today’s foci (amongst three cognitive targets) was to ‘identify patterns of play that increase chances of success’ (Cognitive level 5) with respect to defence.

In previous lessons, the focus was the contact situation and setting up a ruck, which they made great progress with. The boys personal and social skills are fantastic (all committed to improve and very supportive of others within the group, especially tolerant of the pupils that don’t play for school or club and therefore lack experience).  Last lesson started off well in a game of touch, and John gradually coached them into identifying what makes a successful defence.

However, as soon as we introduced contact, the boys couldn’t cope with thinking about the various elements at the break down and on defensive decisions. A drastic shift from comfort to panic in one foul swoop. They standard of play in all aspects of the game dropped and the boys became frustrated quickly. It was my fault for introducing the progression.

At the end of the lesson, we talked as a group about what had happened and agreed to limit contact during the next lesson (today’s).

Lesson started off the same, but we stayed with touch for much longer, and introduced contact in the form of rugby league style, limiting tacking to tacklers and no rucks. This created a more realistic / game specific condition for the boys to play in, whilst maintaining the focus of the defending. Top level stretching!

Similar to the ‘man up’ situation, when the boys scored a try, they opted to restart by kicking to their opponents so that they could start defending.


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