Denis Betts, former head coach of Rugby League side Widnes, spent four years as a rugby union skills coach at Gloucester. Here he shares his thoughts. MORE
The fend is controversially illegal up to certain age groups. It is an important attacking weapon though, which can be utilised to beat a player one-on-one or to offload to break through a defensive line. It needs practising, especially so players can use it in games once they’re of age.
Warm up time: 7-10
Session time: 20-25
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 7-10
What to think about
- Is the player changing direction too late and letting the defender get too close?Add another coloured cone an appropriate distance away from the defender. This is the point where the attacker has to move to be successful and get maximum use of the fend.
- Players who use a bent arm and find it difficult to get their hips and legs away from the defender?A straight arm keeps the defender further away, thus making it more difficult to make the tackle. Walk, then jog through the technique making sure the attacker gets their hips and legs away from the defender.
- Get the defender off balance. Then, as you make the outside break, fend him off using a straight arm and placing your hand on his closest shoulder.
- Use the defender to gain a surge to accelerate away into the space.
What you get your players to do
Set up poles, markers or pads to simulate defenders. Place the cones in a channel with the player having to slightly angle in to receive the pass.
Once he catches the ball, he transfers it into his correct arm, changes direction to the outside and imitates fending off the imaginary defender. He accelerates away and scores on the line. Change the angles and the fending side.
- Add a player as the defender, but initially condition it so that the defender can only jog. The defender could initially start by holding a contact shield.
- Add a support player to pass to once the initial defender has been fended off. The initial ball carrier has to get the ball into two hands to do this.
- Get players to pass out of one hand while fending off.
Split your team into six attackers and three defenders. The pitch is 40 metres wide so the three defenders have to cover a lot of space. This gives the attack lots of gaps and overlaps. The defenders may get close to the ball carrier, but on many occasions they will be stretching, making it an ideal situation for the ball carrier to fend them off.
What to call out
- “Hit the ball at pace”
- “Stand the defender up and move”
- “Keep the ball away from the defender”
- “Use a straight arm to fend off the defender”