As a rugby coach, there is always pressure from parents, players and other coaches when selecting players for the school team. Ideally, the selection procedure should unbiased and free from external influence.
In order to select the right players for your team, you need a straight forward breakdown of criteria to measure each player against. We have simplified this task into a general sheet that coaches can use as a guideline when selecting their teams and that players can use as a checklist to make sure that they are ready for team selection.
The five most important factors of selection are physicality, mentality, technicality, awareness and personality. It is important to note that some of these factors cannot be assessed in one day, but rather over time.
The physical element to rugby selection is never far from a player or coach’s mind; however, it should not be weighted as more important than any other factor in the selection process. Younger players should not be judged based on size but rather fitness levels. The physicality of a high school player is based on two things:
1. Can they handle the physical demands of their position and the game?
2. Can they maintain consistency in their fitness levels and stamina?
A player can benefit in life by improving mental toughness on the field. Mental toughness can be summed up in two words – concentration and persistence. Once again, younger players can’t be evaluated on this aspect as their mental development has not fully developed yet. Judging this element for high school players can be challenging but here are a few questions to help you:
1. Can the player maintain his focus, even when he is physically tired or when his team’s performance is lacking?
2. Can the player continue to give the game his all, even when tired or after an error?
The technical ability of a player is one of the most important areas for selection. It is important to remember that a player’s skill set can come naturally and can also be achieved through plenty of practice. Due to the varied skill-sets needed for different positions, a coach needs to map out the skills needed for each before selecting a player. Here are a few questions to help you:
1. Can the player exhibit and execute the skills needed for his position under pressure?
2. When executing his skills, does he perform in a safe yet effective manner?
Awareness of the Game
Awareness in the game is a difficult idea for players to grasp, particularly at lower levels in rugby. It takes time for the player to be able to focus on his role within the game as it unfolds and to think quickly on his feet. Here’s what to look for in deciding if a player has a good sense of the game:
1. Can the player understand and perform his role in the game throughout the game?
2. Does the player demonstrate his ability to make effective decisions under pressure?
The personal elements are often neglected when selection players for a team; however, they are arguably the most important. A player’s attitude and sportsmanship are key to determining his ability to play on his own and in a team. All sportsman need:
1. Discipline – does the player show up for practice/extra training regardless of the weather?
2. Uptake – can the player pick up skills quickly and take advice willingly?
3. Humility – can the player pick up on errors in his own performance?
4. Teamwork – can the player accept his role and others’ in the team?
5. Goals – does the player take opportunities to improve?
6. Leadership – does the player demonstrate his ability to lead and motivate his team?
Once evaluated, it is of the utmost importance that each and every player receives feedback on the elements they may lack so that they are able to work on improving these elements before in the next selection process.