What To Expect In Rugby This Decade! image
Posted on January 9th 2020 by Richard Hicks

What To Expect In Rugby This Decade!

The game has definitely changed in the last 10 years and for sure will go through some drastic changes for both the professional and amateur levels of the game in this decade. How the game is played at the professional era is dictating more and more how we play at the amateur level.

The structure and laws of the game is such now that the game is not one for all shapes and sizes. Players are having to run further distances and do less positional skills work.

Less Specialisation

There are now declining specific positional aspects of the game, making it a game where players need to only worry about run, catch, pass and tackle. You can see the current Coach Development Qualifications (England) reflecting this. The less specialisation results in a game based approach where participation is focused on rather than player development in a sport.

Video: Why are skills important?

Ball In Play For Longer

This is mainly due to the speeding up of the ball away from breakdowns, resulting in increasing fitness demands, more tackles, more carries and more rucks. Players will be smaller, carry less additional bulkm and have fewer rugby specific technical skills. They will, however, need to be able to play at higher levels of fitness for longer.

Video: Why use games for fitness?


Scrums are being depowered/made safer and are therefore no longer a method of contesting the ball. The ball is out and back in open play very quickly . The scrum has historically always been when the dominant side tired out the forwards to achieve superiority around the park, now this is slowly disappearing. Whatever happens with the scrum, it will stay in the game or rugby union and so coaches must know how to build a scrum – from 1 to 8…

Video: Building the scrum

Tackle Changes

Tackle height will most likely be lowered to below the chest to stop tackles riding up to the head. Expect leg or tackles around the hips being the main focus for stopping players, upper body wraps will still be used in close quarters but refs will be focused on the wrestle aspect.

Video: Develop low tackle technique

The Ruck

Increasingly trying to speed the ball away from this area of the game, there will be a decrease in the role of contesting for the ball. Protecting the ball carrier and the team going forward – the ruck becomes less of collision opportunity.

Video: Breakdown fundamentals - rollovers

Without going into extensive detail of the why and hows, the mens XV a side game in many countries is struggling in terms of numbers, children wanting to be front rows are less in number, schools not playing the game as much as they used to due to the concussion and head injury risks.

Coaching rugby over the next decade has to reflect the game, and this will obviously change. More than ever the need for an amateur code is apparent. The difference between the pros and amateurs is increasing – on and off the pitch. Not sure how we can expect a level 8 player to be executing the same technical demands as a professional on 2 hours a week training. As a coach you will need to have the ability to seek out knowledge and develop yourself as a coach developer of rugby talent.