How to keep the ball alive

From Rugby Coach Weekly

The ball carrier has a duty to be strong in the tackle to keep the ball alive until support players arrive. Get him working on going forward and gaining extra seconds for his team mates.

Why use it

In contact, the ball carrier needs to stay on his feet because he will have to give up the ball if he goes to ground. He also needs to drive forward to make it easier for supporting players to drive in and support him.

Set up

A 5m square with different coloured cones on the corners, one ball per three.

How to keep the ball alive

How to do it?

Put a ball carrier and defender back-to-back about 1m apart. Another attacker faces the ball carrier outside the square. Shout which cone the ball carrier attacks (see picture 1).

He turns and goes for that cone. The defender tries to stop him either by grabbing the ball or tackling. The support player joins the contact situation (see picture 2). The ball carrier cannot offload the ball but can have it ripped off him. Play until the ball is lost, a tackle is completed and the support player has protected the ball or the ball carrier goes over the cone.

Develop by adding another defender. He and the support attacker run around the cones in front of them after you call a colour (see picture 3).


Ball carrier: Use leg drive, with short steps. Roll the upper body to make himself more difficult to hold onto.

Support player: Tell the ball carrier what to do: “Stay on your feet, drive, my ball (to rip), go to ground.”