EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Winning the support race

There are many one-on-one races in a match. One is for the space around the ball carrier as he arrives at contact. Remove his options to pass and he has to go to ground. Win the race to get over the ball and then there is a chance of a turnover. This sessions looks at attack and defence options in support.


Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 5-8


What to think about

Support around the ball carrier is one of the most difficult areas to give specific coaching advice about. There are lots of variables to consider. Instead, sessions like this give players opportunities to try out what works.

Some principles remain the same: Good communication, getting in behind the ball carrier to offer options either side or through the contact area.

You might also help the players weigh up the risks of offloading in contact – and of course, the rewards.

Set-up

  1. Ball carrier: Look for the spaces beyond the tackle for offloads.
  2. Defender: If there is no pass, get through the “tackle gate”and get over the ball.
  3. Both: Keep low, pump your legs, be ready to clear out.

What you get your players to do

Put a static ball carrier in the middle of a 10m square just in front of a ruck pad, with a defender kneeling by his side. About 2m to his side, put an attacker and another defender. Shout out a cone colour and both players run towards that cone and then forward (see picture 1).

In the meantime, the attacker bends his knees and the defender tackles him (see picture 2).

The attacker can attempt to offload to his support player or just place the ball. The two support players (attack and defence) act out a 1v1, either with full tackling or just touch rugby.

A ball carrier next to a ruck pad with a tackler on his knees beside him.

A ball carrier next to a ruck pad with a tackler on his knees beside him.


Development

Change the distances so it can become a ruck contest.

Get the ball carrier to walk towards the ruck pad, using it as a landing area when he is tackled.

Finally, get the ball carrier to run at the defender and try to beat him as the other support players run around their cones.

He is tackled as he bends his knees. The two support players run into the box. The support players either play a 1v1 if there is an offload, or contest for the ball on the ground.

He is tackled as he bends his knees. The two support players run into the box. The support players either play a 1v1 if there is an offload, or contest for the ball on the ground.


Game situation

Play a game of 2v2 in a 15m square, with another player on each team on the side of the pitch (see picture 3).

When you shout “GO”, they can enter the game. Play full contact. Swap the side players after every try or infringement.

Play 2v2. Shout “GO” to let the other players come into play.

Play 2v2. Shout “GO” to let the other players come into play.


What to call out

  • “Be active in the contact – so you are going forward, not going down”
  • “Short steps before and into contact to maintain your balance”
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