EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Counter ruck kings

Counter rucking can spoil an attacking team’s quick ruck ball. Either your players win back the ball or, at worst, disrupt the opposition scrum half’s attempt to pick and clear it. This session progresses to focus on the decision-making process for counter rucking.


Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-11
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 5-7


What to think about

Normal rucking is when two players are bound over the ball on the ground. Once the ball has been worked to the back of one team’s ruck, any attempt to drive in and join the ruck by the other team is regarded as counter rucking.

Normally teams only want one player counter rucking. Otherwise there are gaps in the defence. This is why the decision-making processes in this session are important.

Set-up

  1. Use short steps, drive in and up into contact with your eyes open.
  2. Concentrate on staying on your feet.
  3. Target a player to counter ruck and aim to get under his shoulders with your shoulders.
  4. Don’t counter ruck unless you have a target.

What you get your players to do

Put four defenders with a ruck pad each two metres from a line. Place an attacker on the line opposite each pad. When you shout “NOW”, they step and drive the pad back one step only (see picture 1).

Check carefully for the right technique. Swap players around. As a development, start the attackers facing away from the pads or lying on the ground.

Drive the bag up and back one step only. Stay balanced, with the elbows held close to the body.

Drive the bag up and back one step only. Stay balanced, with the elbows held close to the body.


Development

Set up four defenders in a 10m x 3m box as in picture 2. One attacker stands outside the box and has to drive back the defender in front of him. He then rotates onto the next drill.

A: He drives between the pads.

B: He drives up and back a defender in a press-up position with a ball between his feet.

C: He drives back a defender standing over a ruck pad.

Three different drills: A. Driving between two ruck pads. B. Driving off a low player. C. Driving over a player standing strong over a ruck pad.

Three different drills: A. Driving between two ruck pads. B. Driving off a low player. C. Driving over a player standing strong over a ruck pad.


Game situation

Put an attacker with a ball and a defender in a 3m square. Place three attackers behind one end of the square and one defender behind the opposite end. Three more defenders and two attackers wait to the right of the attacker (see picture 3).

When you shout “GO” the attacker moves to the middle of the square and is tackled. The other attackers try to win the ruck with the support defender helping the tackler.

Release the other defenders and attackers to either play off the ruck or try to counter ruck. Too many counter ruckers might leave space for an attack later on. Play should be restricted to the 3m square at all times.

After the ruck forms in the 3m square, you release players who either counter ruck or protect the fringes.

After the ruck forms in the 3m square, you release players who either counter ruck or protect the fringes.


What to call out

  • “Don’t pick up the legs of the ruck pad holders.”
  • “Keep the elbows in just before contact.”
  • “Dip the hips and drive up.”
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