EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

In the pocket

It is rare that a move penetrates the line and leads to a free run to the try line. The “penetrating runner” will be the focus of the defence. He is now “in the pocket”, in space behind the defensive line but with covering defenders closing in. He needs to find his support and his support need to find him.


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


What to think about

If the penetrating player is finding it hard to make the right decisions, then draw the scenario on a board or paper. You can then support him by going through each situation and what the best option in each may be.

Sometimes players struggle to get themselves into good positions to support the player in the pocket. Ask the support players first to get close to the ball carrier, then to support further away. Vary this until the best solution is found.

Set-up

  1.  Focus on the initial move you are doing to break through the initial line of defence.
  2.  Decide who the “penetrating player” will be that goes through into the pocket.
  3.  Once through, quickly change your initial role to one of support.
  4.  If you are the ball carrier “in the pocket” behind the defence, make the defence move to create space for your support.

What you get your players to do

Split your players into groups of four attackers and four defenders. Spread out the defenders as in the top picture. Get the attackers to plan a move and beat an initial defensive line of cones or poles. The penetrating player is now in a pocket of space, with a defender in front and three defenders closing in from the sides. He has to move and draw these players away from where his support is and get the ball to his fellow attackers to score.

The attack uses a move to penetrate the cones. The penetrating player goes through to find himself in the pocket trapped between the four defenders.

The attack uses a move to penetrate the cones. The penetrating player goes through to find himself in the pocket trapped between the four defenders.


Development

  •  Start with a touch tackle and then develop it into full contact.
  •  Add an initial defensive line of players who touch tackle, but can then chase back and cover using a contact tackle.
  •  Make the width of the practice area wider or narrower.
  •  Start the process from set piece situations at various points on the pitch and from different types of delivery.
As the defence closes, in the support players give the ball carrier options (and in this case a pass to the outside support player).

As the defence closes, in the support players give the ball carrier options (and in this case a pass to the outside support player).


Game situation

Split into two teams of a minimum six players. Each team has four attempts to score from a set piece situation you set up. The initial line of defenders can only touch tackle, so the attack can either break through cleanly or offload at the touch tackle point. This will put a player in the pocket. From this point play full contact rugby.

Practise various plays focusing on executing them well, but then quickly changing roles to support the ball carrier once he is in the pocket.

Practise various plays focusing on executing them well, but then quickly changing roles to support the ball carrier once he is in the pocket.


What to call out

  •  “Sharp, snappy move”
  •  “Hit the gap and keep the pace up in the pocket”
  •  “Depth and width in support”
  •  “Pull the defender and pass”
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