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Top 7 Rugby Drills for Your Next Tryout

Top 7 Rugby Drills for Your Next Tryout


You are three weeks away from conducting rugby tryouts. The venue has been secured, the date has been selected, and your evaluators have been chosen.

One of the final tasks on your to-do list is to select rugby drills. Rugby drills that will assess players on a variety of skills from catching to passing to throwing. Though your tryouts will only last a few hours, it’s essential to choose the right drills to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.

We have rounded up the top 7 drills to evaluate rugby players, providing you with a thorough overview of your players’ abilities to make well-informed drafting decisions.

1. High Kick Catching

Set up:

  • Set up a grid on the field with pylons, 50 feet long and 30 feet wide.
  • Line up your players in a single file line slightly outside the pylons.
  • Have an evaluator on the other side of the pylon grid directly across from the first players in line. The coach will act as the kicker.
High kick catching rugby drill

High kick catching drill


  • On your whistle, the evaluator will high kick the ball into the air, aiming for the middle of the grid.
  • The first player in line will swiftly run into the grid and try and catch the kick.
  • If the player catches the ball, they will throw it back to the coach and go to the back of the line. If the player doesn’t make a successful catch, they will have to attempt the drill again right away.
  • Run through this drill until each player has had one successful catch.


This drill teaches players about timing and speed to make a successful catch. Players will not only have to gauge when to start running towards the ball once it is kicked into the air, but at what pace they should be approaching the ball.

2. 1 vs. 1 Tackling

Set up:

  • Pair up players. One will act as the attacker and the other will act as the defender.
  • The attacker will start with the ball in their hands.


  • On your whistle, the defender will tackle the attacker to try and gain possession of the ball.
  • For an effective tackle, the defender will tackle their opponent to the ground and force them to release the ball.
  • Once the defender successfully gains possession of the ball, they will hold it in their hands and run with it.


In order for the tackle to be deemed successful, the attacker must be lying, sitting, or at least have one knee on the ground. *The defender must make contact with the attacker below their shoulders.

3. Sprint Circuit Training

Set up:

  • Set up two pylons to mark the start and finish of a 50-meter sprint.
  • Set up as many lanes as you can, enabling more players to perform this drill at once.
  • Line up as many players at the starting pylons for the first sprint. This will be the 60/70 sprint: 60 seconds sprinting at 70% max effort.


  • Line up as many players at the starting pylons for the first sprint. This will be the 60/70 sprint: 60 seconds sprinting at 70% max effort.
  • Players will sprint to the opposite pylon at 70% effort, once they reach the pylon, they will quickly pivot and sprint back to the pylon they started from.
    • Players will repeat this process until the 60 seconds have elapsed. Run through the 60/70 sprint until all players have had one turn.
  • Repeat this process twice more, changing the time and effort variables. A 45/80 sprint (45 seconds at 80% max effort) and a 30/90 sprint (30 seconds at 90% max effort).


Incorporating high-intensity cardiovascular drills into your rugby tryouts enhances a player’s ability to effectively perform on both offense and defense.

4. 1 vs. 1 Scrum

Set up:

  • Two players will start on the ground facing each other with shoulders hip-width apart, backs straight, and knees on the ground.
  • Player 1 will properly bind with Player B.
  • Note: A proper starting position reduces the risk of collapses while ensuring powerful forward drives.


  • Once players are in the proper starting position, the drill will begin. On your whistle, players will push against each other in the scrum position, lifting off their knees onto their toes.
  • After a few seconds in this position, you will blow your whistle again. Players will have to push against each other and go back into a kneeling position.
  • Repeat this drill for 1-2 minutes, as players alternate between kneeling and the toes-up position.

5. Run & Throw

Set up:

  • Pair up players and give each pair one rugby ball.
  • Have all pairs start on one side of the field. *Each pair will stand about 10 feet apart from each other.
  • Each pair will label themselves Player 1 and Player 2.


  • On the coach’s whistle, both players will start running side-by-side at the same pace.
  • Player 1 will throw the ball to Player 2. Once Player 2 has received the ball, they will throw it back to Player 1 (all while running).
  • Players will repeat this drill until they reach the end of the field and back to starting position.


To make this drill more challenging, spread pairs out farther away from each other on the field. Then, each pair will perform this drill running beside each other at a further distance apart. 

6. Speed Pass Challenge

Set up:

  • Set up a row of pylons on one side of the field, 2 feet from each other.
  • Across the field, set up a row of pylons in the exact same formation.
  • Pair up your players, with each player on opposite sides of the field standing behind their respective pylons.
  • Players on the left side of the field will be the ones starting with the rugby ball in their hand.
Speed pass challenge rugby drill

Speed pass challenge


  • On your whistle, both players will run towards the middle of the field.
  • Once the players have met in the middle, the player with the ball in their hand will pass the ball to their partner (Note: The rugby ball should not be thrown in this drill).
  • Both players will then both continue running back until they reach their respective pylons.
  • As soon as all players have reached their cone, the whistle will be blown again and players will repeat this drill.

7. Rip the Ball

Set up:

  • Pair up players and give each a ball.
  • One player will have possession of the ball (they will be the carrier) and the other player will be the mauler.


  • The player with possession of the ball will have the ball placed on their chest, with both arms wrapped around the ball lightly in a hugging possession.
  • To rip the ball, the mauler will place one hand on the top of the ball and the other hand on the bottom of the ball.
  • The mauler will then forcefully pull downwards away from the carrier’s grasp and quickly bring the ball into their chest.

Wrapping Up

Keep these 7 rugby drills on hand when it comes to any evaluation, from tryouts to mid-season evaluations to clinics. Measuring players on these 7 drills throughout the season will provide you with better insight into how your athletes are progressing on these skills. And, the more you know the more you can share with athletes directly!

Interested in digitizing the evaluation process? Ditch the pen-and-paper forms you typically rely on for rugby evaluations and make the switch to SkillShark:

  • Download the app.
  • Create your evaluation template with any rugby skill you want to evaluate.
  • Score players on your phone.
Rugby players with ball in the air

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FAQ — Rugby Tryout Drills

SkillShark is a leading evaluation software designed to assist coaches in assessing and improving the performance of rugby players. It streamlines the evaluation process by providing instant feedback reports after each assessment, saving coaches valuable time compared to traditional data entry into spreadsheets.

Yes, SkillShark is a versatile tool suitable for evaluating athletes in various sports. While this blog focuses on rugby, SkillShark can be applied to multiple sports, making it a valuable resource for coaches across different disciplines.

• Customize evaluation templates
• Score athletes on your mobile device
• Instantly access player data
• Provide player report cards
• Compare & rank players
• Draft teams on the app

Yes, SkillShark can be used for rugby evaluations across various skill levels, from youth players to professionals. Coaches can adapt the assessment criteria and templates to suit the developmental stage of the players they are working with.

If you have any more questions or need further information, don’t hesitate to reach out to SkillShark’s support team for assistance at

Absolutely! SkillShark is suitable for coaches at all levels, whether you are working with beginner-level players or professionals. The customizable templates and flexibility of the app make it adaptable to your coaching requirements, regardless of the players’ skill levels.

You can measure rugby players on skills such as:
• Passing
• Tackling
• Catching
• Mauling
• Agility
• Character

1. Choose drills 2-3 weeks ahead of tryouts.
2. Select evaluators 1 week before and communicate with them (i.e., run through the drills and explain what they should look for at each station they are evaluating).
3. Focus on positive relationships. Aside from coaching rugby tryouts, take the time to get to know athletes and provide verbal tips for improvement when you can.

SkillShark offers a free printable rugby tryout template. All you have to do is download and print, then you are ready to evaluate!

While we do offer a rugby evaluation form, we do recommend checking out the SkillShark app, removing pen-and-paper evaluations.

A well-structured rugby practice plan ensures you make the most out of your available time.

1) Set clear objectives of what you want to accomplish.
2) Schedule the necessary rugby drills & game scenarios.
3) Include time to properly take notes and provide verbal feedback during practice.

From getting your equipment ready, setting up drill stations, and assigning staff roles, a rugby tryout checklist ensures you don’t leave anything out!

Danielle Stringer

Danielle is a dynamic content marketer with a unique blend of creativity and analytical expertise. She is driven by her passion for helping companies scale through lead generation, always finding distinctive ways to connect with her audience. Drawing from her extensive background in B2B SaaS, she is thrilled to apply her skills and knowledge in her current role at SkillShark Software Inc.