EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Kings of the counter ruck

Counter rucking spoils the attacking team’s quick ball. Either your players win back the ball or, at worst, disrupt the opposition scrum half’s attempt to clear it. Once techniques have been embedded, this session progresses to 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

What is the difference between rucking and counter rucking?

Normal rucking happens 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, then any attempt to drive in and join the ruck by the other team is regarded as counter rucking.

How many players do you want to commit to slowing down the ruck ball?

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

Set-up

  1. Use short steps, drive in and up into the contact situation 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 players each with a ruck pad 2m from a line (like a touchline). Place four more on the line opposite each bag. When you shout “NOW”, they step and drive the bag back one step only (to help maintain balance – see picture 1).

Check carefully for the right technique. Swap players around. As a development, start the “drivers” facing away from the bags 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 2m from a line. Two hold ruck pads, one is on all fours with a ball between his shins and the other stands over a ruck pad.

One attacker stands in front of each situation and has to drive back the defender in front of him. He then moves on to the next activity (see picture 2).

A: He drives between the bags.

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

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

Counter ruckers perform different skills for each situation: A: Drive between two bags. B: Drive off a low player . C: Drive off a player standing strong over a ruck pad. Players move from situation to situation after completing it.

Counter ruckers perform different skills for each situation: A: Drive between two bags. B: Drive off a low player . C: Drive off a player standing strong over a ruck pad. Players move from situation to situation after completing it.


Game situation

Put an attacker with a ball and a defender in a 3m square. Place three attackers and one defender behind the box with three additional defenders and two extra attackers 2m from the ruck (see picture 3).

When you shout “GO”, the attacker moves forward and gets tackled. The players behind try to win the ruck. You then release the other defenders and attackers to either play off the ruck or counter ruck.

Too many counter ruckers will leave gaps in defence if you lose the ball.

After the ruck forms in the “tackle” box with the players behind the attacker and tackler, release the other attackers and defenders who either counter ruck or protect the fringes. Warn against overcommitting at the counter ruck as you might leave gaps in defence.

After the ruck forms in the “tackle” box with the players behind the attacker and tackler, release the other attackers and defenders who either counter ruck or protect the fringes. Warn against overcommitting at the counter ruck as you might leave gaps in defence.


What to call out

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