EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Slowing the ruck

Legally slow down opposition ball at the ruck by attacking the cross point of the ruck – this is the area behind the tackle and immediately to the sides. First, the defender aims to get over the ball (knowing that he might not win it but will not give away a penalty). Second, the defender drives into and angles away any attacker over the ball – the attack will have to bring in another player.


Warm up time: 5
Session time: 6-9
Development time: 6-9
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 7


What to think about

The cross-point is the area immediately behind where the tackled player has fallen. They put the ball into this area, where the attacking 9 (or another clearer) should pick up the ball. However, if the cross-point is occupied by a defender, the ball is difficult to pass away from the ruck. It is the cross-point because you want your defender to drive attackers away from the ball at the point of the ball, not over the tackled player.

Note that the defender is not going for the ball. They are simply taking the space. This reduces the penalty count. The defender can also further disrupt by kicking the ball.

Set-up

  1. Win the space behind the tackled player.
  2. Stay on your feet, enter the tackle through the gate, and drive low and hard over the ball, and then stop.

What you get your players to do

Put a ball carrier and a defender in the middle of a 5m square. Put another attacker holding a ruck pad and another defender at the sides of the box. Get the ball carrier to move from side to side, with the defender shadowing him.

When you shout “tackle”, the ball carrier takes a tackle and goes to ground. The defender at the side runs in and has to get themselves over the ball as quickly as possible, legally and without putting his hands on the ball (see picture 1, fig 1).

When you shout “tackle”, the ruck pad holder tries to prevent the defender from getting over the ball (see picture 1, fig 2).

The ball carrier gets tackled and goes to ground. The defender comes in to occupy the space over the ball, before a ruck pad holder tries to push him back. Start without the attacker so the defender gets used to angles and then body position.

The ball carrier gets tackled and goes to ground. The defender comes in to occupy the space over the ball, before a ruck pad holder tries to push him back. Start without the attacker so the defender gets used to angles and then body position.


Development

Put a ball carrier on the ground with an attacking player two steps behind him. Put a defender to the side. They have to come through the tackle gate and push the attacker over and away from the ball (see picture 2, figs 1 and 2).

Add an attacker who has to try and pass the ball away as further development.

Get a ball carrier to lie on the ground. A defender comes through the tackle gate to drive away an attacker.

Get a ball carrier to lie on the ground. A defender comes through the tackle gate to drive away an attacker.


Game situation

In a 20m x 10m box, play a game of 5v4 (plus one defender rotating in after every attempt).

The attack has to keep recycling the ball within five seconds of the tackle – you make a slow count (see picture 3).

The defence wins a point if it succeeds, the attack for scoring a try.

Play a game of 5v4 in which the defence tries to slow down the ruck for more than five seconds. A point for every “slow down” and a point for a try to the attack. A spare defender swaps with an active defender after each tackle.

Play a game of 5v4 in which the defence tries to slow down the ruck for more than five seconds. A point for every “slow down” and a point for a try to the attack. A spare defender swaps with an active defender after each tackle.


What to call out

  • “No hands on the ball, just keep driving beyond it”
  • “Drive attackers into and out of the ruck, not backwards”
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