Rugby is both a collision and an evasive sport. Defenders want to collide into attackers. Attackers want to evade defenders. That's why footwork is a core skill for rugby. Skipping through a few ladders might add some agility, but it's best to deal with actual, moving bodies. Sometimes it's just straight-line speed you need. Other times it's lateral or sideways movement. Often it's a bit of both. MORE
Give your players better footwork options before contact and in open play. The session forces the player to use footwork and scan what is in front of him. There is plenty of game-related activity so players can work out the best options.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 5-8
What to think about
What makes this session relevant to matchplay is that it is easily repeatable – lots of goes – with different and realistic evasion situations. Remind players they are not always going to make a clean break but should at least try to get through the tackle. This means dominating the contact area and not being driven back.
As with all evasion exercises, players should always be looking to go forward, not sideways.
- Look up and stay balanced. Drive off one foot to get to the target.
- Attack one space hard and then change direction with conviction.
What you get your players to do
Put a ball carrier 3m behind a gate of cones. Put a defender in front of the gate. Stand behind the defender.
Get the ball carrier to come forward through the gate and indicate which cone you want him to aim for (see picture 1).
Delay the indication to increase pressure. The defender can only move side to side and no further than the cones either side of him. Adjust that distance to suit your players.
- Have the ball passed to the player before he goes through the gate – he might have to adjust his run.
- Don’t show which cone to run to – the ball carrier decides.
- Allow the defender to come forward once the ball carrier has reached the gate. Use two-handed touch to start with.
Put a line of attackers behind a coned gate 5m away from one corner of a 10m square and a line of defenders behind a coned gate 3m from the opposite corner (see picture 2).
Get one attacker to run through the gate in front of him and then aim to score at one of three cones . He gets a point for a score at the nearest cones and two points for the furthest one (see picture 3).
The defender runs through his gate aiming to two-hand touch the ball carrier or tackle him.
Give the ball carrier five seconds to score. Release the next set of players quickly.
What to call out
“Run hard, upright and look ahead”
“Try out your options to step – don’t worry if you don’t make the break every time”