EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Supporting the big beasts

Some players are built for taking the ball into the heart of the defence: these big beasts are your primary runners. But they must rely on support players to provide options – whether for a pass, offload in the tackle, or help in the contact area.


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 rules for support in close quarters are set by the actions of the ball carrier. What the ball carrier does is determined by what the defence is doing.

The support can influence both attack and defence. Communication can tell the attacker whether the support player can take a pass, offload, stay on his feet in contact, or go to ground.

Support players’ running lines can make defenders move off their own defensive mark, providing extra time and space for their attacking team mate.

Support roles are developed by “doing”. Players must work together in training to learn how the runners react in contact and build trust with each other.

Set-up

  1. Anticipate the break and not the contact.
  2. Be active in support to draw defenders – look like a creditable threat.
  3. Make sure the ball carrier and defence know you want the ball.

What you get your players to do

Set up four attackers and two ruck pad holders as in the top picture. Pass the ball to the front attacker who then attacks the ruck pad holders. They move forward to meet him.

Assuming the attacker stays on his feet in the contact, he can offload the ball to one of the supporting runners. Develop by removing one of the ruck pads. In this case, the remaining nonruck pad holder should go for the ball carrier, while the ruck pad holder should cover one of the supporting runners.

The ball carrier attacks between the pads and offloads the ball after contact.

The ball carrier attacks between the pads and offloads the ball after contact.


Development

Set up a 9 and 10, supported by two forwards and one back (or the other way round). Put three defenders in front of them. The attackers must try to score at the far end.

The aim is to give the ball to a primary runner in space and then support him as he tries to break the line. Use full tackling.

The 9 feeds 10 who then passes to a primary runner. The other players (F = forwards and B = back) provide support. Use full tackling.

The 9 feeds 10 who then passes to a primary runner. The other players (F = forwards and B = back) provide support. Use full tackling.


Game situation

Split into four attackers, a 9 and two primary runners against four defenders. Put some cones down to represent a ruck.

Line up the attackers and defenders – the attack aims to score at the far end. Only a primary runner can take the first tackle. Finish an attempt by the attacking players if there is a try, an infringement or a ruck is formed.

Attack and defence run into position. Two attackers are designated as primary runners. Only they can take the first tackle. Full contact, no rucks allowed.

Attack and defence run into position. Two attackers are designated as primary runners. Only they can take the first tackle. Full contact, no rucks allowed.


What to call out

  • “Expect the ball, and run hard”
  • “Give the ball carrier the confidence to break the line”
  • “Attack the line late to give yourself a good sight of what is happening”
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