How to Conduct Your Half Time

Half time in rugby is an area of the game that does not have a lot of advice on when looking through the search engines. It is an essential scenario that every rugby coach must conduct, but if you’re not sure what to say or do, how can you motivate your team to respond? The conducting of Half Time must be done with planning, timing precision, valuable content and motivational delivery of words. That is why we at Global Rugby have decided to dedicate an article that provides a Half Time blueprint to running a half time.

To follow is a five step process that, if followed, will give direction from start to finish with regard to how to run a half time. We can give you the direction, but it’s up to you to deliver it in a way that suits your coaching style.


1. Plan your Half Time based on the First Half

Conducting a Half Time should be proactive to a point (in terms of relating to the game plan), but mostly reactive based on what has unfolded in the first forty minutes, or however long your team is playing for depending on age level or match-type. Like any good rugby coach, you should have a print out of your game plan. During the first half, try and match your sides’ performance to what has been spoken about at training in the lead up to the game. Write down notable points for both the positive and negative sides so you can discuss these during half time.

If you have Assistant Coaches or Unit-specific coaches, encourage them to jot down bullet points from what they have seen in the first half. They could also match that against what they were trying to achieve from the first half. Just before half time it is important to spend a few minutes speaking with these coaches to bounce ideas around, talk about what they have written down compared to you and chat about making substitutions based on what has happened in the first half. The more prepared you are going into half time, the smoother it will run and the easier it will be to implement changes. To download resource and planning templates for half time, check these out.


2. Gather your team

Having consulted with other coaches or members you trust (if at all), it’s now time to gather every player, including the reserve bench, to meet at a point either on or off the field for you to speak with. What you’ll find is that if things are not going well, players will be flustered, can be negative, will want to blame others or generally bring a bad attitude into the half time gathering. You must control this. However, if things are going well, it should be the opposite. The first I personally implement, that has worked really well, is to encourage 30 seconds of silence where players relax, rehydrate, eat some snakes or a banana and just get back to neutral.

Once you have allowed players to relax in silence, you will find them far easier to talk to, rather than having 15 players screaming all at once. Just a helpful hint for you.



3. Group discussion – Positives, Negatives and Work-ons

Now that you know exactly what you are going to discuss (based on the first half when comparing to the game plan) and have relaxed, rehydrated and gathered your players, it is time to get stuck in. By now you might have used one minute of the allocated period of time for half time. Knowing exactly what’s been going well in the first half, ask the group to provide some feedback on what is going well to start the discussion on a positive note. Make sure all the points have been covered. Then ask the group what isn’t going so well. Make eye contact and repeat the sorts of answers you receive to emphasise them. Finally, ask the group what we need to improve on, encourage them to eliminate any bad habits and finish the discussion on a positive note.

This is an old management technique called Build-Break-Build. By employing this sort of technique, we start the players by discussing what’s going well, then break them down with the negatives before setting them right again with the work-ons that will lead to positives.


4. Split into Units – Forwards and Backs

At this point, and if you have them, you need to rely on your Forwards and Backs Coaches to have their say. If not, ask the leaders in the playing group to run these small meetings. Obviously having consulted before the actual half time got underway you are aware of what’s going well but also what needs to be fixed within these Units. This will also allow you to float between the two split units to reinforce any specific points.

You should employ the same build-break-build technique in the Unit meetings, constantly ask for feedback and look for players who really want to make the change, then encourage those players to take charge and lead by example. Always positives, then negatives, then work-ons that will lead to a positive outcome.

half-time Global Rugby


5. Deliver your final speech

This is what being a Rugby Coach is all about. It’s about taking into account everything that’s been said in the half time group discussions and challenging each player to step up and be accountable. Announce your substitutions and thank the starters for their contribution to the match. Emphasise that each new player must add energy and value to contribute to the team’s goals. We no longer need to discuss the negatives from the first half, only what’s been going well and how our work-ons will lead to the positive outcome. It’s also really important not to focus on what the other team is doing, play your own game, your own structure and you’ll be fine.

Finally, it is completely dependant on what sort of person you are as to what sort of speech you deliver. There are some pretty outrageous speeches out there but also some quieter, more heart-felt ones. Figure out what works best for you and adapt it to your plan. Hand over to the Captain and/or Leadership group to have the final say to reinforce what needs to be done on the field and step back knowing you have conducted an excellent half time.

To view a few inspirational half time speeches, click this link.



In conclusion, every rugby coach is different, so experiment with a few variations on the above and you will find something that works. Personally, I use this blueprint in every match and have never failed to achieve the outcomes I set out to pursue. By implementing such a structure, players conform quickly, no time is wasted, communication and direction is clear and the second half should be yours for the taking. If you have found an alternative method or can add any further advice, please leave a comment below. And if you’re ever looking for any additional resources to help with your rugby coaching, visit our homepage.

Yours in Rugby,

Sam Lindsay


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Sam Lindsay is the Director at Global Rugby, a website that provides Rugby Coaches, Clubs and Schools with rugby training and coaching videos. You can connect with Sam on Google +, Facebook and LinkedIn or click through to check out some other great articles in the Global Rugby News section.

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