EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Options open

All too often defences can tell exactly where the ball is going and who the strike runner is going to be. “Options open” is all about creating as many realistic attacking options for the passing player and keeping the defence guessing until it’s too late.

The patterns are basic and can be achieved by any team.


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


What to think about

Many clean breaks are made only for the cover defence to somehow stop the try being scored.

Support is everyone’s responsibility. Once a break has been made, everyone within range should be working hard to get on the ball carrier’s shoulder.

In an ideal world, when faced with cover defenders the ball carrier should have options on both sides. This makes the defenders’ job tougher.

Players need to face these types of situations every week in training and to be put under pressure to score everyone of them.

Set-up

  1. Create space by changing your angles of running.
  2. Hold your runs from deep so the defenders have to commit early.
  3. Always expect the ball.
  4. Run onto the ball at pace.

What you get your players to do

Line up five attacking players, three in front and two behind. They have to move the three defenders to create space for a strike runner. Let them experiment as much as they want, but insist that every player must be a potential strike runner in every attack.

Play one phase only and use a two-handed touch tackle on the hips. If tackled, the ball carrier can only pass to a support player within two metres.

Players 2 and 3 split the two for defenders, creating space up the middle for player 4, who hits the space as late as possible.

Players 2 and 3 split the two for defenders, creating space up the middle for player 4, who hits the space as late as possible.


Development

  • Add a fourth defender in the line to make it harder to create space.
  • Start with the ball in the middle of the channel to create options either side of the ball carrier.
  • Add a defender behind the front line who can cover any of the attacking players.
This time the defender comes in to cover player 4, creating space for player 3 on the outside.

This time the defender comes in to cover player 4, creating space for player 3 on the outside.


Game situation

Beat the cover

Two teams of five play a full contact game. The defence has three players up in a line and two others who can only come into play once the front line has been broken. The attacking team has to beat the first line of defence and then support the strike runner to beat the cover defence.

Score a point for a try, two points if the attack beats the defensive front line cleanly (not a missed tackle) and another two points for a try scored without making any contact.

The two covering defenders can start anywhere they like along the back line of the pitch.

The two covering defenders can start anywhere they like along the back line of the pitch.


What to call out

  • “Heads up and look at the defence”
  • “Communicate who is in space”
  • “Pass the ball in front of the runners”
  • “Everyone: Hands up, ready for a pass”
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