Coaching Lessons from the Autumn Internationals image
Posted on November 22nd 2018 by Richard Hicks

Coaching Lessons from the Autumn Internationals

With less than a year now until the RWC 2019, the Autumn Internationals are one of the last chances for the coaches to see and adjust their coaching preparations before the tournament kicks off. Although we shouldn't compare ourselves to elite coaches, it's hard to ignore the similiarties in the short and long term challenges we all face..

Your coaching journey will differ from any other coaches, there are some comparisons with elite coaches and their journeys, but it is important to remember that every coach walks their own path.

As a coach we prepare our teams pretty regularly for competitions, weekly in league structure or even monthly in a cup competition. Similar to Eddie Jones and the England team, we as coaches have a limited period of time to achieve a coherent and cohesive rugby performance.

Much of this is determined by the Coaches Philosophy and how they plan out their coaching journey.

Video: Lions: Coaching Philosophy

Coaches of all levels face up to similar challenges weekly a few of these are:

1) Selection and all its dilemmas - Gatland’s pick of 3 world class scrum halves, with Rhys Webb being Ruled out.

Video: The most important policy

2) Leadership skills - Whether Eddie Jones has a solo captain of split captain between Farrell and Hartley.

Video: Continuous learning

3)Emotional intelligence - Joe Schmidt's emotional management of the Ireland team that beat NZ last week.

Video: Eddie Jones On Motivation

4) Varying levels of athlete empathy.

5) Managing a workforce both of players and other coaches.

6) Competition coaching.

7) Detailed periodisation and peaking knowledge.

How we manage our players, the squad, other coaches, the senior stakeholders such as DoRs is incremental to creating a winning environment within the core values of the sport and the club.

Video: Player / Coach Relationship

Making mistakes

Making mistakes is part of coaching. We expect players to make mistakes, we create situations that actually stretch the player to test their limits and therefore failure is an intrinsic part of success, how we manage this aspect of coaching is one that is hard to grasp, but essential to success.

Video: Staying Positive


Selection, workforce management and developing empathetic skills are very often helped by working with a MENTOR, this role can be essential in a developing coach, both in their learning and longevity in the game.

Video: Developing your coaching style

The MENTOR can be found at all high level coaching environments. Elite coach development programmes have used mentors and mentoring programmes, at grassroots level the role of the mentor can be as equally powerful and successful in providing the coach with a support structure for helping to iron out the issues that could befall a new coach.

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