EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Pitch invaders game for go forward

Despite being the most fundamental attacking and defensive principles of play, getting a team to Go Forward can often be a challenge. Use a game of Pitch Invaders to emphasise the importance of this principle.

Split a pitch into three areas. For larger games, you could play from 22m to 22m line, with the 10m lines acting as breakpoints.

Play two-handed touch rugby. Teams have three touches to move into the next zone.

After a touch, the ball carrier goes to ground to present the ball. The tackler has to stay at the ball carrier until after the ball is passed.

If a team reaches three touches before they reach the next zone, or scoring a try in the final zone, then it is a turnover and restart.

The ball restarts in the zone where the turnover is.

A team scores one point for finishing their set in the zone nearest their try line, two points in the next zone, three points in the next zone or score 5 points for a try. No points are scored if the ball is knocked on or a forward pass is made.

WHY PLAY THE GAME

In attack, this game encourages players to go forward up the pitch to score more points whilst encouraging retention of the ball.

The teams gain extra phases to play while working up the field. To do this, players must determine a strategy of moving forward, whether it’s going through gaps in the opposition line, or going around the defence by attacking with width.

In defence, the game encourages players to close down the attack and prevent them from moving forward into the next zone.

If a team is successful in doing this, then the turnover of possession will take place higher up the pitch, meaning that a defence that goes forward starts closer to the opposition try line, and a chance to score more points.

In defence, players must work on closing down the time and space of attackers as a unit.

CHECKING FOR UNDERSTANDING

Use a mix of coaching skills here to check for understanding. First and foremost observe the game, see what’s happening. Ask players questions, either quickly during play or at opportune breaks.

In Attack

  • Is the team going forward in attack?
  • Are players coming onto the ball with pace, ideally with hips pointing towards the try line they are attempting to score on?
  • Are players scanning for spaces to attack into, playing into space, not a face?
  • Are players communicating effectively to take advantage of gaps in the defensive line?

In Defence

  • Is the defensive line putting pressure on the attack with good go forward? Is this creating early turnovers?
  • Is the defence working as one line going up to avoid gaps appearing?
  • Are defenders identifying and communicating threats posed by the attack?

CHANGING THE GAME

Here are three ways that you could change this game which can alter how players will react and give plenty of different scenarios to encourage go forward.

Kicking: If the attacking team kicks the ball into touch after one bounce, they receive either one point for it going out in the middle zone or two points in the zone closest to the try line they are attempting to score on. This helps players think about kicking for territory and pinning teams back, especially when unable to make progress going forward with the ball in hand. Defences will have to think about how to deny space in the backfield.

Staggered Defence: In the zone furthest from the try line the attacking team are trying to score on, the defence can only use a third of their players, in the next zone two thirds before finally, all players become available in the final third. This will give plenty of space for the attack to use early on to go forward, but they will need to adapt as they move up the pitch. In defence, how the team defends will also change. Defenders that aren’t actively involved also need to think where they might be required.

Change the tackle count: You may decide to change the system of tackles; for example, the attack might only have five touches to score with no extra touches for moving up into another zone. The defence might get a condition that they win a turnover if they stop the attack behind the gain line.

MOVING FORWARD

After playing this game, players should begin to develop an understanding of the principles of go forward. If possible, observe a game to see if the lessons from this game are transferred to others.

Reiterate the critical points for both attack and defence. If there are areas where there is a skill lacking which could assist with the game (like the inability to run on to the ball at pace) work on these independently and revisit the game another session.

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