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Pingvin RFC, Trelleborg, Sweden
Support throughout 2016

Article by Dave Cockburn

Late in 2015, Penguin Honorary Vice President and Pingvin RFC stalwart Brian Mansell contacted Penguin CEO Craig Brown to discuss ways that the two clubs could work together and for the Penguin Coaching Academy to help support the development of coaches and players at the Pingvin RFC.

After some discussions an approach was agreed whereby the Penguin Academy would find a coach who could support the project on a part time basis over an extended period of time.

Past Penguin player and Academy Coach Dave Cockburn was approached and agreed to take up the assignment. Although the exact involvement was to be agreed the key elements required were the ability to run World Rugby Coach Education courses and support the Pingvin RFC coaching team develop the players and Club coaching plan.

Pingvin RFC Head Coach Mark Stacey contacted Dave and they planned out how the support would work. Initially the plan was to look at the playing structures and strategies within the club. Dave then meet with a few of the Pingvins in Richmond (London) in early March and worked with Mark to plan the requirements and interaction over the coming year. Two of the Pingvin players were playing for the Penguins against Oxford University and had been invited to Richmond RFC for training with Steve Hill (Penguin coach).

Following the meeting in Richmond, Dave travelled to Sweden in mid-March and worked with Mark on the following:

  • Observe the coaching/management team in action,
  • Deliver a coaching session dealing with ball into contact, the breakdown area and team tackles.

The first session Dave attended was the first session of the season for the club so some admin was covered. This included a discussion around anti-doping and the signing of the anti-doping agreement by each play. Mark then moved on to outline the season’s strategy to the players and emphasised that this was the start of the official preseason and he wanted to instil the following aims and culture.

  • A mind shift change has to take place by the players. They have to stop getting frustrated when things are not going their way as this results in the team starting to, for want of a better word, “bitch” at each other.
  • The management team do not want a lot of players giving their opinion about a certain practice or move during the session. Observations are welcome prior or after the session. This does not mean that players cannot ask questions
  • ‘B’ team is going to be put into place
  • Attendance to practice is a problem for the club and has to be addressed.
  • Not many games in a season

As part of the strategy, and to get player buy into the process, the players set their own goals as follows:

  • Win SM Gold
  • Hard work is required where everyone attends practice. Players work on individual skills and weaknesses
  • Create a Club Culture
  • Create a personal culture

The team reviewed the previous season and agreed that there was a lack of organisation by not having a Game Plan. The coaches took this feedback on board and prepared a new game plan based on EXIT – EXPLORE - MAYHEM

As well as the on field training activities Penguin coach Dave help facilitate some of the team discussions around the approach to the season, the strategy, the game plan and how the team would achieve its objectives.

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