On one cold March evening in Crystal Palace, CSSC's regular coaches were joined by a Rugby World Cup winner, former England Women's XVs head coach Gary Street. Gary had accepted an invitation to run a specialist passing session and it proved immensely worthwhile as bumper numbers attended.
After a warm-up, Gary began the session with some drills involving simple application of the hands and fingers to the ball, including some static exercises with the hands driving through the ball that we could all easily incorporate into our warm-ups. He then highlighted the importance of making swift eye contact with a receiver before you pass them the ball, the quick head turn a key part, and showed us how to prepare our 'rifles' and how to follow through with the forearm as the pass is made. A few dropped balls later and the accuracy began to notably improve. Gary moved onto the ruck/dump area and applied his skills as a former scrum-half to show us how best to sweep into the dummy-half position. Approaching the ball and getting the feet into the correct position clearly very helpful in allowing the body to be open towards the direction of the pass, particularly when passing long.
We also covered some 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 drills which allowed Gary to illustrate how easily it can be for support players to be too flat and to cut down the area into which the passer can play the ball accurately. By using more depth, the area in which to pass to increases and we can use it to really bring our pacier players onto the ball.
It was a great session, conducted with Gary's usual irreverant and dry style. Though not everyone picked up on it with one club member actually seeking confirmation as to whether Gary did indeed used to be a lead ballet dancer...
The key 'take-away' from the evening was how easy it is to incorporate one or two of these exercises at a time into regular warm-ups and training sessions to really enhance passing accuracy and completion. So whilst Touch is used as a warm-up tool and exercise in finding space for the 15-a-side game, there are key crossovers that fifteens can pass on to Touch in terms of technical areas like passing and running lines, etc.
It was great to have a bit of trophy winning Rugby World Cup stardust sprinkled on the session and the whole club thanks Gary for a useful evening - we look forward to another!