The Bristol Bears defence coach explains how to talk more efficiently on the pitch

How to work on communication – by Omar Mouneimne

Communication is key in rugby, so you know where your team-mates are and what they’re doing as well as what is happening with the opposition.

Here Bristol Bears defence coach Omar Mouneimne explains how to work on communication so you talk effectively and efficiently on the pitch…

Identity parade

“Communication is second only to vision, in real time. How you do that in defence depends on whether you’re directly involved, or about to be, off the ball.

“If you’re 15 metres from the action and their shape is unfolding, you must recognise, ‘This is gonna unfold, I’ve seen the video and recognise what’s coming.’ You adjust spacing, width, talk to the guy next to you. When directly involved in a tackle or slowing ball, you then get up and need to know if they’re coming back your way or going another way.”

Shape shifting

“In training I’d give you a form of certainty – I say ‘We are only facing a shape of ten, where they’ve got just these options’, with, say, three options. You’d know with certainty who is whose man and what the shape looks like. Then I’ll start to mix it up as we go along. First I give you the tools to go, then you try with more duress, up to game duress.”

Running commentary

“It’s important to do what we call ‘small talk’. It’s a running commentary the whole time. ‘Shift, tighter, wider, I think they’re going to reload here…’ That amounts to solving the problem. It’s difficult to talk in every moment, but with small talk you can handle 90% of scenarios. With a silent movie you’re dead in defence. Look a little, talk a little, look a little, talk a little is the idea.”

Role play

“You want to talk about what shape you’re facing, and your role in the shape. So say you face a shape with ten players in it – call it X – you would shout ‘X, X, I’ve got the show and go!’, meaning the playmaker. You talk about the shape and your role as quickly as you can. We call it ‘AB response’. A: What do I see? B: What do I do about it?”

This article originally appeared in the January 2021 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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