How to Become a Rugby Coach

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It is said that rugby is a vitally important sport “because football players need heroes, too.”

Dating to the 19th century, rugby originally began in England. The first international match was held in 1871, with Scotland beating England 1-0.

Rugby became an official sport of the Summer Olympics in 1900.

Today an estimated 8.5 million people enjoy playing rugby worldwide. Although it has a reputation as a tough and violent sport, rugby players point out that American football is much more likely to cause injuries because the players wear pads and they hit harder as a result.

how to become a rugby coach

Athletes who switch from football to rugby quickly discover a rugby ball is fatter through the middle, with flat ends. This makes the ball less streamlined than an American regulation football, which has laces and pointed ends, making it easier to throw. Because there’s more drag on an airborne rugby ball than a football it makes the game more challenging.

Another appeal of rugby that sets it apart from American football is you don’t need to be a six-foot-six monster to play competitively. There is a position for everyone on the field. Speed, skill, strength and attitude are more important than physical size.

Ruggers don’t need sheer mass because they have a reputation for fighting harder. Ruggers play hard, but they also party hard. The kinship and comraderies is so strong among players that even a simple online search turns up tales of wild times and legendary post-game rugby parties.

Devoted rugby players also love the sport because practice and play keep them in the best shape of their life. Cardiovascular fitness? Check? Core strength, speed, flexibility and stamina? Yes to all.

But it takes regular training to reach peak physical condition and consistent practice to play rugby well. Serious players want to get better at their sport. To reach those goals, they’re willing to pay for private coaching, too, and that’s where there’s an opportunity for you.

Becoming a certified rugby coach keeps you active in the game, even in later years when you may no longer be able to play on the field. You can still teach the sport.

Rugby is famed for the camaraderie it builds within teams, among individual players and their coaches. You will be seen as a leader and mentor leading athletes to greatness in one of the most challenging contact sports. Heroes need a hero. That can be you. Ready? Crack your knuckles. Mark your goals. Let’s dig in. 

how much do rugby coaches make

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a private rugby coach
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities
  • Finding athletes to teach as a private coach
  • Plus helpful tips for private rugby coaches

How much money can you make?

A full time rugby coach can expect to earn between $40,789 to $50,682 annually based on the national average.

Private rugby coaches around the country charge about $50 an hour for their sessions. At that rate, their pay is nearly twice the national average of full-time rugby coaches. The goal is to generate enough clients that you’re able to work full-time as a private rugby coach.

Training and Certification

USA Rugby offers training courses leading to certification as a professional rugby coach. The annual membership for coaches is $65.

There are 3 training levels leading to coach certification.

rugby coach training and certification

The first, Rugby Ready, is a program developed by the World Rugby organization. This online program covers 18 good-practice modules that focus on:

  • Match preparation and physical conditioning
  • Correct technique
  • Injury prevention and management.

After completing the online Rugby Ready exam, you can download a personalized awareness certificate. Registration is free to USA Rugby members.

At Level 2 you’ll complete online pre-course work and attend an in-person clinic. The course structure combines “how to coach” theory with the practical aspects of coaching rugby. You’ll learn about:

  • Player welfare
  • Teaching players the technical skills to play safely
  • Effective coaching techniques, including training games, technical skill development through progressions and collaborative coaching.

In Level 3 you’ll learn advanced coaching skills used in athlete development and program building.

The course consists of a two-day certification clinic and successful completion of online home study.

Level 3 helps you to increase your ability to effectively coach players, develop their technical skills and reach strategic and tactical goals.

You must complete Level 2 before advancing to this course.

All of the online modules below are required for certification.

Course fees vary.

To coach students under 18 you’ll need to complete SafeSport training. This mandatory course covers issues of abuse, sexual harassment, and when and how to report issues. The cost is $20. 

rugby coach courses

Rugby Warfare offers a training guide for players that’s worth reviewing as you develop your own drills and training sessions.

This video series from Rugby World gives you an idea of what training sessions involve, with a look at different exercises for strength conditioning.

World Rugby offers dozens of free training videos, with an in-depth look at many different rugby drills covering technique and strategy, as well as strength conditioning and workout routines.

Professional Groups to join

Founded in 1975, USA Rugby is the national governing body for the sport. Based in Lafayette, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with promoting and developing the game on all levels. There are more than 120,000 active members.

rugby coach professional groups

USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an Olympic development pathway for elite athletes.

Joining the organization is a prerequisite of becoming a certified coach. Maintaining your membership lets you network with other rugby coaches, exchange ideas and enjoy the sense of community built around a common passion and goal.


Public recreation centers need coaches for their course offerings.

Online search sites such as and ZipRecruiter can yield job openings around the country.

Your membership in USA Rugby combined with participation in rugby discussion groups on social media will help grow your network. Soon you’ll have a network of friends and colleagues who can pass along insider tips about job openings.

Finding Clients

Your membership in USA Rugby is a solid credential for attracting serious rugby players to private lessons.

Connect with colleges and high schools that offer rugby as a sport, letting teams know you offer private instruction both on and off-season for players who want to sharpen and keep their edge year-round.

Encourage your players to leave reviews on consumer sites such as Yelp, where they can post about your outstanding rugby coaching services. Your private coaching business then appears in localized searches.

Sign up with CoachUp to be connected with rugby players interested in private training. It costs about $10 for annual registration. Just know that CoachUp takes a percentage of your hourly fee, which can be as high as 43 percent for a one-time session with an athlete. The percentage CoachUp will charge goes down the longer you work with a player through their service.

Good to know:

Rugby Coach Weekly recommends coaches focus on five core skills as they train players:

  • Passing

All players should at minimum be competent in delivering clearing passes, spin passes, orthodox and pop passes, and in both directions. Keep pressure on players during training so they learn to choose which passes will help changing situations.

  • Running

Key running skills common to all players include acceleration, changing pace, changing direction and running efficiently sideways and backwards. Balancing exercises help players stay on their feet more often than not in contact situations.

  • Support play

Each player needs to understand supporting roles in the game. This involves being able to communicate with the ball carrier so players know where they are in relation to each other when to make the pass.

  • Tackling

You must be able to bring down opponents in order to win. Players should be trained in a variety of tackle techniques and become competent tackling in one-on-one situations.

  • Decision making

Improve players’ strategic thinking by forcing them to make decisions under pressure during practice sessions, then discuss why they chose one option over another.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other content that can help you grow your career as a private rugby coach. Here’s a great place to start.

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