WATCH: Learn how to pass and catch with Jonny Wilkinson

Wed 7th Dec '16

Jonny Wilkinson Masterclass


For those of you who missed it on last week’s Game Changers, Jonny Wilkinson put on a rugby masterclass for some lucky students from Uppingham Community College after they won a Sky Sports Living for Sport competition.

Jonny is widely regarded as one of the best kickers world rugby has ever seen, and is perhaps most known for that stunning drop-goal to win the World Cup for England in 2003, but the incredible skill he had with the ball in his hands was often overlooked.

In this masterclass, he runs through some essential passing and catching drills with the girls’ rugby team from Uppingham. You can watch the full video above and we’ve also detailed the key elements Jonny worked on with the group below so you can refer back to them and improve your own rugby skills! 


Passing and catching are two of rugby’s core skills. Being able to control the direction of your passes and ensuring they are as accurate as possible can help your team to score tries.

But on the other hand, dropping the ball can lead to your team conceding possession and give your opponent the chance to get points on the board, so being able to catch the ball securely is just as helpful.  


When catching the ball, follow Jonny’s useful tips and you’ll be in good hands (sorry!):

  • Always use two hands
  • Don’t get caught flat footed – keep moving your feet and adjust them to stay in-line with your upper body
  • Keep your eyes on the ball the whole way
  • When taking the ball into your hands, always try to keep them in front of your eyes
  • Receive the ball with your hands on either side so you can go straight into making the next pass
  • Relax! Having the confidence that you can catch any ball, especially when it is dropping out of the sky from a big kick, is crucial. Having nerves or fear will make your arms and body tense, increasing the chances of you dropping the ball and conceding possession


 Passing can be a very difficult skill to pick up when you first start playing rugby, especially as you can’t play the ball forwards from your hands, but practice the following steps to make it a whole lot simpler!

  • Always hold the ball in two hands
  • Spread your fingers so the ball can’t escape from your grasp and you have the maximum control over where you direct it
  • Keep your eyes focussed on where you want the ball to go and make sure your body is solid with your feet firmly on the ground
  • When releasing the ball, take it back before moving your arms quickly towards the target
  • If you want to generate more power, just accelerate your hands faster and extend your arms further before releasing the ball – but make sure you still follow the above steps first!
  • Start with shorter passes but once you have mastered this, gradually increase the distance between yourself and the target


 The more you practice the basic skills in rugby – like passing and catching - the better you’ll get.

And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The more you make, the more you learn and understand, which will help you develop as a player.

But most of all, you need to enjoy the experience, enjoy learning and enjoy improving!

Uppingham Community College won the chance to train with Jonny after planning a Sky Sports Living for Sport project for the current academic year.

Don’t forget to tune into Game Changers every Saturday from 8am on Sky Sports 1 & Sky 1, or On Demand by heading to the Kids section then Sky Sports.


Related stories

Jonny masterclass 310317

Students enjoy once-in-a-lifetime Rugby Masterclass with Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny, Thinus and Nolli provide an unforgettable masterclass to Grace Academy from Solihull... Check it out!

Darren Campbell Selfie

Darren Campbell brings athletics to life for students from Essex

Students from Essex were treated to an action-packed athletics masterclass with Olympic Gold Medal winner Darren Campbell...

Selfie with students of Crana College and Bernard Borgan

Bernard Brogan Delivers GAA Masterclass at Dublin’s National Sports Campus

Four-time All-Ireland winner Bernard Brogan joined students from Crana College for an unforgettable GAA masterclass!

Jonny Wilkinson - Uppingham - Masterclass 2

Jonny Wilkinson inspires students on and off the rugby pitch

Leicestershire students are treated to a once-in-a-lifetime rugby masterclass with World Cup winner and Sky Academy Ambassador Jonny Wilkinson...

Team GB hockey - Alex Danson and Helen Richardson-Walsh Olympics

Rio 2016 Olympics Round-Up: Athlete Mentors Alex Danson and Helen Richardson-Walsh make history

A fantastic Olympic Games sees Team GB bring home 67 medals, set a national record and produce a women’s hockey first! Check out how our Athlete Mentors and Ambassadors got on...