England V Argentina Sevens in Wellington

Sevens coaching manuals are somewhat thin on the ground, partly because the majority of amateur players are happy to play the sport off the cuff. Colin Hillman, the policeman who played for and coached Wales Sevens, understood that a few basic principles couldgo a long way and was in the process of writing this expert guide when he died, aged just 46, in July last year.

His work wasn’t wasted as Dan Cottrell finished what Hillman had started, delivering a guide that will serve all sevens players well. Many of the leading sevens coaches contribute, with Mike Friday especially prevalent as he offers seven drills to use fora “world-class session in two hours” and his rules for picking a balanced squad.

If pure gas is non negotiable, it’s possible to defeat quicker opponents. Indeed, Joe Lydon, another former England Sevens coach, admits that the Manchester Commonwealth Games was a big learning curve for him: “I picked a squad to play sevens. Titch (New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens) picked a squad to play sevens on a narrow short pitch. They won, we didn’t.”

In general, quicker teams should compress their attack to give the speedsters more space, while slower but more physical teams should take contact to create offside lines and suck opponents in.

Key skills and techniques, attack and defence, tactics and set-pieces (under Friday, England used a six-man lineout to score from a maul) are all explored in depth. Assimilate all this and even your ragtag sevens outfit from The Dog & Duck will have something about them!


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This article appeared in the July 2010 issue of Rugby World Magazine

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