Rugby: Help on hand for coaching the kids

John Leslie conducts a coaching session at Miller Park earlier this month. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
John Leslie conducts a coaching session at Miller Park earlier this month. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
John Leslie knows what it is like to roll up to a training session as a coach and have no idea.

But the former Otago and Highlanders captain and Scottish international is sharing the knowledge he has gained over the years for his coaching and is travelling around the country spreading the word.

In association with Dunedin-based company CrestClean, he has developed a programme to help all those keen mums and dads to give it a go on the coaching side.

''When I turned up to coach my son's under-7 team in 2006, I was disorganised. I got the kids moving but they're hard to manage as a group because they're so young,'' Leslie said.

''I was drawing on my own experiences, which are extensive, but at the end of the day that gave me very little help for managing and coaching rugby skills to young kids effectively.''

Leslie, who now runs a rugby clothing and equipment company in Dunedin, said if he was finding it tough, there were probably lots of coaches out there who were in the same boat.

So he put his thinking cap on, studied what coaches did for junior sides and things started coming together.

He gradually increased his coaching skills over the years and has now put together a training guide, both electronically and in a booklet, to show how a one-hour training session would work.

It mixes fitness with core rugby skills and Leslie said he hoped it would be great for any coaches of junior teams in all parts of the country.

Along with the guide, he is also holding 50 training clinics around the country to coach the coaches.

He has visited clubs in Mid Canterbury, Counties-Manukau, Auckland and North Harbour and has also been to clubs in the South, having done 20 clinics already.

''The feedback we have got has all been positive. A lot of people thank you, so that is great.

''It's about teaching the kids the fundamentals of the game and having a bit of fun. That is the best thing, to get them schooled up on those basic skills of the game.

''Junior team coaches are top people, who give their time and energy to their communities. I've learnt a lot over the eight years of coaching kids ... and my goal is to share this information and, hopefully, help out other coaches and kids.''

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