Over the past two seasons Leinster Rugby Department have challenged clubs to identify the way they wish rugby to be played, coached and developed. Mullingar RFC have taken up this challenge and over the last 18 months all sectors of the club, supported by Leinster Rugby, have worked to develop a Long Term Player Development (LTPD) programme that best represents who they are and the way they wish to develop players, coaches, and the game in the club. In developing this programme Mullingar RFC will provide a first class rugby experience for all involved with rugby in their community.

I would like to wish Mullingar RFC all the best in delivering their programme and to remind them that all successful clubs have the ability to change and to adapt as they progress in meeting the needs of their players, coaches and the game. In this journey Mullingar RFC can always rely on the support of Leinster Rugby.

Philip Lawlor

Domestic Rugby Manager, Leinster Rugby


The aim of the IRFU Faculty Programme is to provide rugby clubs with a framework to facilitate ownership of developing and managing their own rugby system.

In Mullingar RFC we were delighted to work through this programme and have developed a single, coordinated and integrated rugby development plan that represents the needs of players and coaches at all levels of the game while simultaneously articulating the unique ethos and values of our Club as a whole. We hope this plan will be the stimulus to further development as we look to develop our Club and rugby in the community from strength to strength.

Mick Lambe

President, Mullingar Rugby Football Club


The role of the Rugby Development Committee, through the implementation of this development plan, is to provide coaches throughout the Club with the knowledge and understanding of best practice in relation to the structure, content and delivery methodologies of appropriate coaching sessions and thereby address the needs of the players at all levels of the game.

Rugby Development Committee 2015-2016

Peter Faulkner Chairman

Sean Og Brennan Underage Chair

David Farrelly Community Rugby

Claire O' Brien

The Rugby Development Plan

The Rugby Development Plan is presented in 4 developmental stages cognisant of the characteristics and requirements of the Game, The Coach and The Player at each stage.

Stage 1

Learn to Play

Stage 2

Learn to Practice

Stage 3

Practice to Perform

Stage 4

Practice to Compete

The Coach





The Player





The Game





Development through

Deliberate Play

Development through

Structured Practice

Development through

Deliberate Practice



Structured Game Practice

Stage 1 Rugby: Learn to Play

The focus of stage 1 rugby is on introducing young children to the unique

characteristics of Rugby in an atmosphere of enjoyment and safety so as to promote an active experience that will encourage them to stay and play.

An important element of stage 1 rugby is a high level of participation for all players leading to sustained & increased numbers of players. This is best achieved with a low player to coach ratio.

This game is dominated by running and handling with appropriate physical contact. The focus of coaching sessions, therefore, should be predominantly on developing Fundamental Movement Skills in conjunction with developing Fundamental Sports Skills. Due to immature levels of social development amongst the players at stage 1 rugby, the coach should also aim to develop social skills, such as confidence in contact, discipline, fair play, listening skills, respect and teamwork amongst his/her players


The Coach – Guides

A positive, encouraging environment where simple & subtle suggestions are made for the next attempt without an overemphasis on fault correction or teaching.

– Coach-Player ratio 1:8

– Coach-Player ratio 1:10

The IRFU Mini Rugby Coaching Course is a requirement to coach at stage 1 rugby.


The Player – Plays

High levels of participation for ALL players. The capacities of stage 1 players dictate that development

is best promoted through the medium of play.

Mini1 – Development through deliberate play

Mini2 – Development through structured play

Games/Play MORE THAN Teaching/Practice

The Game – Fun

An atmosphere of enjoyment and safety so as to promote an active experience that will encourage players to stay and play.

Experience participation under UNCHALLENGING conditions.

Stage 2 Rugby: Learn to Practice

The focus of stage 2 rugby is on the development of individual skills and on understanding how to apply these skills in collective team play (attack & defence). Coaching sessions, therefore, should emphasize technical proficiency and the application of individual skills through the game ahead of unit or mini-unit play. Thus providing opportunities for all players to play and enjoy the game.

Developing understanding of the characteristics & functional roles of set-piece skills is an important element of stage 2 rugby. However, due to rapid growth spurts & physical change at this level, players will change positions between forwards & backs and therefore experience of both units should be normal practice.

As players progress through stage 2 rugby they must learn to channel their competitive instincts from individual effort towards collective action.

The Coach – Teaches

A developmental / learning environment where positive feedback is used for the purposes of fault correction, leading to individual technical proficiency & collective understanding. Get the player involved by making it desirable & fun. Coach-Player ratio 1:12

The IRFU Foundation Coaching Course is a requirement to coach at stage 2 rugby.

The Player – Practices

The primacy of practice cannot be overstated. It is only by regular repetition of action, working on technique & applying that technique as pressure increases in the game that skill improves.

Development through structured practice.

Games/Play LESS THAN Teaching/Practice

The Game – Collective Action

The interaction of players in attack & defence with opportunities to apply individual skills as part of collective team play.

Experience participation under LIMITED CHALLENGING conditions.

Stage 3 Rugby: Practice to Perform

The focus of stage 3 rugby is on the development of individual skills and unit skills and on understanding how to apply them to perform as part as a collective unit.

The interaction of players, to create & exploit opportunities in attack and to pressurize the opposition & minimize attacking opportunities in defence, is integral to stage 3 rugby. Coaching sessions, therefore, should emphasize game understanding and should challenge the players to perform individually and collectively with technical precision.

Discipline, Respect, Sportsmanship and Teamwork are important elements of the make-up of players at stage 3 rugby as the links between commitment to training, game performance levels and results are strengthened leading to individual and team improvement and further development opportunities.

The Coach – Challenges

Creates an environment where players problem solve & are challenged to perform individually and collectively with precision in the context of the game. Use of open questions to develop collective understanding. Coach-Player ratio 1:12

The IRFU Level 1 Coaching Course is a requirement to coach at stage 3 rugby.

The Player – Focusses

‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Samuel Beckett

The player tries to create/exploit opportunities in attack or minimize attacking opportunities in defence, learning from each attempt. He/she does not ignore errors. He/she sees then, feels them, fixes them and tries again.

Development through deliberate practice.

Games/Play EQUAL TO Teaching/Practice

The Game – Performance

As links between quality of practice and game performance levels are strengthened the focus is on individual & collective precision in the pursuit of success.

Experience participation under CHALLENGING conditions.

Stage 4 Rugby: Practice to Compete

The focus of stage 4 rugby is the performance of individual and positional roles within a structured collective unit/team. Players are independent learners, involved in their own development, capable of problem solving and responsible for individual & team decisions. Coaching sessions, therefore, should promote structured team play, facilitate player problem solving, game management and leadership skills.

Support services in the form of strength & conditioning training, injury prevention & management services and regular social events are important factors in creating a healthy club environment where players at stage 4 rugby are committed to representing Mullingar RFC and to challenging for success in all competitions.

The Coach – Facilitates

Since adult players have the capacity for greater input & personal / collective responsibility, the role of the coach at stage 4 rugby is to facilitate player problem solving, game management and leadership skills. Coach-Player ratio 1:15

The IRFU Level 1 Coaching Course is a requirement to coach at stage 4 rugby with the IRFU Level 2 Coaching Course desirable.

The Player – Collaborates

Players at stage 4 rugby play for their own enjoyment & as adults, do so accepting that they reap what they sow. Players must share responsibility for their own development and must work in conjunction with the coach and other club personnel to create a club environment that they are proud to represent.

Development through structured game practice.

Games/Play LESS THAN Teaching/Practice

The Game – Outcome

The game is fiercely competitive emphasizing collective performance within structured unit/team play in the pursuit of success in all competitions.

Experience participation under HIGHLY CHALLENGING conditions.