The first support player at the ruck needs to decide whether to clear out a threat and, if so, which technique to use. Start by developing three key techniques, then put them into a game situation. MORE
A “willingness to fight to win the breakdown battle” is such a key area that the team that wins it almost invariably wins the game. “Ruck wrecker” will develop your players’ techniques and their attitude to winning the breakdown.
Warm up time: 7-10
Session time: 10-15
Development time: 15-20
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 7-10
What to think about
Successful rucking is as much about attitude as about strength and technique. It is important you instil a real sense of pride in your team’s rucking.
Which team wins the crucial breakdown area is usually decided in the first 10 minutes of a game. More often than not, the more physical and aggressive team will come out on top.
Hugh Richards and Dean Richards, writing in Rugby Tough (Hale & Collins 2002), talk about the need to be specific when instructing players to “be aggressive”.
Focus players’ minds on game-relevant actions such as “knock them back in the tackle”, “drive them back in contact” and “clear them off the ball at the rucks”.
- Keep your shoulders above your hips and your head up.
- Pick a target to hit, hit it hard and drive past the ball.
- Drive from low to high and stay on your feet.
What you get your players to do
Introduce the technique slowly in groups of three. The ball carrier hits a ruck pad, held by a second player, and goes to ground presenting the ball back. The third player targets the ruck pad and drives past the ball.
Start slowly and emphasise the basics of the technique. Move to a diamond shape with four players, each holding a ruck pad at one of the points, and two pairs of players working in the middle. The players work for one minute, clearing out each pad in a clockwise rotation.
Take away the ruck pads and have two defenders on each point of the diamond. The first makes the tackle and the second competes for the ball on the ground.
The clearing player must target the second player and clear him out.
Set out four numbered stations consisting of a player with a ruck pad, with a ball placed about one metre in front of it. Give five working players a sequence to ruck at each station (for example 4, 3, 1, 2).
At each station, the first player picks up the ball and drives into the pad. The second player clears the pad out and the third player acts as scrum half, passing to a runner. As soon as the runner has the ball, he puts it down and the group moves to the next station in the sequence. Time the players and challenge the teams to beat each others’ time.
What to call out
- “Keep your head up and eyes on the target”
- “Short dynamic steps beyond the ball”
- “Wrap the arms round the target”
- “Stay on your feet”