I had the pleasure of joining coaches, listening and learning from some great minds in the worlds of rugby, leadership and management. Plaisir du mouvement translates into English as 'the pleasure of movement' and is a rugby coaching philosophy developed by French coaching icon Pierre Villepreux. Villepreux developed and produced his philosophy while producing multiple French international rugby players from just one school in the process. He successfully coached Toulouse and the French National team.
What strikes me about his philosophy is the beauty of its simplicity, in attacking space and reacting to player movement. He focusses on taking pleasure from the game and "maintaining disorder when you create it in attack". It is an unusual way of doing things in comparison to traditional English coaching and encourages intuitive learning. The implementation of this type of play requires time, and in my opinion collective buy in and trust from all the players. It is a process of encouragement and trial and error where skill development takes place at its own pace. This is where the reality of short-term results based professionalism kicks in. The current coaching climate in professional rugby does not allow for much time, as results are mostly what matter. This means that the implementation of this philosophy requires the patience and continuity of players that few owners have.
The highly respected former Oxford University Coach Lyn Evans, (a disciple of Villepreux), showcased some of his ball handling warm up drills and told of the influence that basketball had on some handling work, creating interference and making the player think. We also had the privilege of listening to Bob Reeves who is both Director of the Foundation for Leadership Through Sport and President of the RFU. He spoke about leadership and the responsibility of coaches to develop leaders throughout their teams. Bob also talked about the power of empowering others to make decisions which is something that resonates with my own experience. When as a group of players, you have created the rules, they are a lot harder to break!
I had a fantastic time and I'd like to thank Bob, Lyn and Pierre for their time and also extend my thanks to Joe Winpenney at Oxford University Rugby Football Club for arranging the conference, which was a complete success.
With Pierre Villepreux
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