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The Nashua Rugby Skills Project

This is the world’s first passing and catching skills competition. The project runs across 3 southern african countries offering young rugby players and their school the chance to enter a unique environment where they get to improve their rugby, receive world class coaching, interact with professional players, and win great prizes.

Improving performance by up to 220%! – The Nashua Rugby Skills Project has evolved into a leading sports development programme that offers players, coaches and schools access to products and programmes that have been scientifically proven to improve the passing and catching ability of both individual players, and also overall team performance.

Measuring and quantifying player development is at the core of the project. With the ShadowBall, The Nashua Rugby Skills project now offers players and coaches the chance learn how to test their skills through innovative drills, then offers them the chance to use the ShadowBall and its leading programmes to improve themselves, before being tested again to measure their improvement.

What makes the Nashua Rugby Skills Project such a powerful training tool is that Nashua and ShadowBall have teamed up with some former Springboks to bring this programme to schools. Players engage with legends while training to funky music, and by using the programme, schools have the chance to win amazing prizes and the best placed school can win the grand prize of R30,000-00 and hold the title of school with the best skills in the land!

The Nashua Sponsorship

Nashua Limited (Pty) South Africa’s leading business solutions provider, partnered with The Great Sporting Goods Company to leverage the technology of a unique flat-sided ball, the Shadowball, which allows players to pass and catch the ball alone so as to increase individual practicing time and improve accuracy.

Equal opportunities for success

The programme upskilled schools, selected by the network of Nashua franchises, as well as assisting the broader community by working with corresponding development (underprivileged) schools.

Overall Benefits

While uplifting rugby in SA, Nashua was able to forge lasting partnerships with the schools. Many of the schools needed solutions to help with processes and improve efficiency for a quality education, which is core to Nashua’s offering.

Opportunities offered through the NRSP are life-changing for the children involved – and their families – and can change the way schools teach and train students to nurture future talent. In this way, the NRSP is effectively building a winning rugby nation.

The first round of the NRSP roadshow visited 32 schools and each school was seen twice – the second visit being an assessment for improvement. The NRSP gave every school ShadowBalls, a coach’s pass booster manual and a set of Google cardboard glasses with instructional footage for the coaches and kids.

Many of the schools showed substantial improvement when tested. Hendriena Combined School made it to the finals of their league and Buchule School showed increased performance by 110% after increasing practice time and improving accuracy with the ShadowBall.

Gary Crookes of The ShadowBall Academy, has worked closely with Nashua to conceptualise and rollout the NRSP. Amidst the enhancement of their rugby skills, learners were upskilled on broader life lessons: listening to instructions, dealing with disappointment, confidence and self-discipline.


A Short History of ‘The New Spin on Rugby’

Sports champions know that practice makes permanent, so it is crucial that your technique is right from the start. The ShadowBall Pass Booster programme was created with this vision. Along with the Nashua Rugby Skills Project, the ShadowBall Academy is ensuring that it is delivered to rugby players nationwide, radically upskilling passing and catching abilities.

“The principle that says practice makes perfect is just not true,” says ShadowBall inventor, Gary Crookes. “If a player uses the wrong techniques, they will not be able to improve their skills.

“Once I had designed the ShadowBall, it was imperative that we work out how a player or a coach could effectively use the tool and get massive increases in passing and catching abilities within a very short space of time,” he says. Crookes approached the University of Stellenbosch Centre for Human Performance Sciences who helped develop the initial nine drills. Then with assistance from top ex-Springboks like Gcobani Bobo and experienced rugby skills coaches such as Blikkies Groenewald, as well as scientific sports science expert, Dr. Ray Finch, they conducted the initial testing at Jeppe High School For Boys in Johannesburg.
“We developed a battery of tests to assess the skills today and in four weeks’ time again after being exposed to the programme,” says Finch. “We tested standing passing accuracy from both a player’s dominant and non-dominant side, as well as running passing and catching.”

After four weeks, the Jeppe Boy’s top performer improved his passing accuracy by 266%. As a group, they averaged 20% more accurate passing ability than the control group.

Jump forward to 2017 and ShadowBall partnered with Nashua to use the ShadowBall Pass Booster program to develop one of the most succesful sports development projects in South Africa. The role of sports development for both skills improvement and character building of youngsters is a leading feature of the ShadowBall ethos – “The drills impact how well a player passes, how confident they are to pass and enables better decision making on the field,” says former Springbok 15’s Center and Springbok 7’s captain Gcobani Bobo.