Principles of Play

This is where I strongly believe that I view the game differently compared to the vast majority of rugby coaches out there…

I firmly believe in that the game of rugby is based on ‘Principles’…’Principles of Attack’…’Principles of Defence’…

This is a revolutionary way to view the game…a ‘Paradigm Shift’…something that I have not seen so far anywhere in the world of coaching…

What does this actually mean…?

Here are the Coaching Manual ‘textbook’ answers:-


  1. Gain Possession;
  2. Go Forward;
  3. Provide Support;
  4. Maintain Continuity;
  5. Apply Pressure;
  6. Score.


  1. Go Forward;
  2. Provide Support;
  3. Apply Pressure;
  4. Regain Possession.

What do these textbook answers really mean…?!

I believe they miss the point of what the game of Rugby Union is really about…!

View Number One: Aim of the game…?

  • Score more points than the opposition.

View Number Two: ‘Principles of Play’

  • ‘To Score Tries’ in Attack;
  • ‘To Stop the Opposition from Scoring’ in Defence;
  • If you do this then you will ‘Score more points than the opposition’.

If you do not start with the end in mind how on earth are your teams going to score tries and stop the opposition from scoring…?

This philosophy…this approach…is backed up by the success of the Denstone College from 2009 to 2012…across 4 seasons…compared to the period from 2005 to 2008…

Denstone College 1st XV Results

The key observations are:-

  • In 10 less matches;
  • On a much tougher fixture list;
  • 371 more points were scored;
  • 818 less points were conceded;
  • 1189 difference in Points Difference;
  • 12.2 more points were scored on average per game;
  • 13.8 less points were conceded on average per game;
  • 26.1 difference in Points Difference on average per game;
  • 41 more tries were scored;
  • 135 less tries were conceded.

This period was based on ‘Principles’…’Principles of Attack’…’Principles of Defence’…

Principle of Attack: To Score Tries…41 more tries!

Principle of Defence: To Stop the Opposition from Scoring…135 less tries!

The ‘Principles of Play’ can be view on the following pages:-

‘Principles of Attack’

‘Principles of Defence’

…which are reinforced by analysing the ‘Try Scoring Trends’:-

Try Scoring Trends slide

…and some can be viewed here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.