When you dent their line and win a quick ruck, it pays to have a play in your locker to make a decisive break while they’re recovering their shape. Have your 9 run off the forwards with this “loop and give”. MORE
Often, the ball carrier’s closest support comes from the player who has just passed the ball, or the player who might next receive it. Neither are particularly well placed to support from depth, so this session helps them move into positions to provide the most effective help in the contact area.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 8-10
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 5-7
What to think about
Support play is a key principle of attacking rugby. The best support players often recognise how they can be most effective in relation to the position of the ball on the pitch.
For less experienced players, you have to give them opportunities in training where support play matters. You also need to remind them of the principles of support play: staying in the game and reading what the ball carrier is doing.
Keep asking your players questions about their roles before and after each exercise.
- Stay in the game once you have passed the ball.
- Ask yourself, how close am I to the ball carrier? The closer you are, the more you need to be ready to receive a pass or protect the ball in contact.
- Does the ball carrier know your position?
What you get your players to do
Put a ball carrier at the side of the box and two other attackers at one end, each opposite a small gate of cones. Place a defender opposite the central attacker. Have the ball carrier pass to the central attacker, who advances through the gate in front of him. In the meantime, the defender moves forward to tackle the receiver.
The second attacker has to run through the gate in front of him before supporting, whilst the original ball carrier also supports.
Allow offloads and rucks.
In the same box, place the defender in between the two gates. As the ball is passed to the first receiver, you call out which attacker will advance with the ball. The defender reacts to your call and tackles this player, whilst the other players support.
Adjust the distances and direction of the passes. Add a second defender to increase difficulty.
Split into six attackers and three defenders. Spread out the attackers and defenders as in the bottom picture. Start with the ball in one corner and, playing full contact rugby, have the attack aim to score at the far end. After four attempts, rotate the players in groups of three.
What to call out
- “Receiver: work hard to beat the defender and provide the support with a good target.”
- “Support players: watch the ball carrier’s hips and shoulders. The hips tell you where the ball carrier is moving, the shoulders where the ball is likely to be passed.”