The Ruck and How to Win it

Create a Devastating Rucking Machine to Keep the Ball and Win Turnovers
Dan Cottrell Jim Love

Did you know there are around 150 rucks in an average game of rugby? That’s a ruck every 15 seconds*.

So get this crucial aspect of your game sorted out and so many other parts will fall into place.

“I’ve got to say an inspired purchase, really recommend this. It has helped us focus on core points with drills and exercises – and fully understandable.” Don Compton, Blackheath U12s

Think back to some games you lost when you should have won. How many involved situations where your team rucked badly?


* World Rugby statistical analysis of rucking and the amount of time the ball is in play during a typical Six Nations game.


Do you recognise any of these common rugby performance issues? For example…

– Possession or territory squandered by disorganised players, players in the wrong positions or roles, or by players making poor decisions.

– Penalties given away by ill-disciplined players arriving illegally at the ruck, or keeping their “hands on” the ball.

– The ball turned over at the contact contest because players weren’t able to ruck quickly or forcefully, or because support players adopted ineffectual body positions.

– Soft tries conceded by committing too many players to defensive rucks, or by players taking up haphazard field positions.

– Try scoring opportunities lost through slow ball, or players failing to exploit the options at the ruck, or being “outgunned” through the phases.

These are just a few of the many ruck problems that rugby coaches from around the world have written to me about.

With the help of Jim Love, the former Maori All Blacks coach, I have compiled a unique manual for coaching individual player and team skills at the ruck – The Ruck and How to Win It.

You already know that there’s more to rucking than just “big hits”, and that tactical know-how, technical expertise and organisation are more important than basic aggression and strength.

The Ruck and How to Win It can help you sharpen your players’ skills, boost your side’s technical expertise and channel your team’s aggression to create a successful “rucking machine”.

Packed with illustrations and training tips throughout, this new report is set out in two parts.

Part one focuses on individual player skills, including:

– The methods to stop slow ball killing your game, such as coaching players to avoid contact, make effective contact, and offload in contact.

– The “5 Golden Rules” to winning the contact contest to secure quality and quick ball at the ruck.

– How to develop effective rucks by making the ball carrier work harder in contact, getting support players to arrive better and not necessarily quicker to drive through the ruck, and the body positions required for successful (and safer) rucking.

– The techniques and tactics to dynamically clear out the opposition at rucks by concentrating on one opponent at a time, whilst focusing at all times on the ball.

– The simple strategies you can adopt to improve your ruck defence, like getting “close up and personal” with the other team, the “three point stance” to prepare defenders, and the decisions your players need to make about contesting and committing numbers to each ruck.

– How best your players can decide whether to attack the blindside or openside following a ruck, and then how to set up these opportunities for a successful outcome.

Part two looks at the coaching of unit and team performance. It contains nine coaching sessions that show you how to explain and coach all elements of the ruck to your players.

The sessions will give you the information and prompts you need to coach:

– Core Ruck Skills – rapidly clearing out opposition players from the ruck, and securing quality quick ball for the scrum half.

– The Ruck Contest – competing successfully for 50:50 ruck ball, and making decisions about how to defend or attack.

– Ruck Defence: “Guard Dogs” – organising an aggressive defence at the side of the ruck to prevent the attacking team either gaining ground or getting quick ball, and competing to win turnover ball.

– Dynamic Ruck Defence – guarding the fringes of the ruck from close attacks, such as “pick and go” or pop passes, and taking your defence to the attacking team.

– “Ruck Scan” – improving your players’ body positions and decision making at the ruck.

– Ruck Attack – producing quality ball to attack the fringes of the ruck, providing you with an option to restart the forward momentum of a slow attack.

– Ruck To Maul – developing great dynamic possession from a static situation.

– “Ruck Around The Clock” – improving your players’ rucking from unusual situations.

– “Ruck Vision” – getting your players to communicate under pressure and after the ruck to exploit the attacking opportunities.

Every coaching session is created to help you improve your team’s ruck attack and defence strategies and techniques, and boost your players’ skills and technical expertise. The sessions include prompts like:

“What to tell your players the session is about” – to outline the objectives of the session.

“What you tell your players to do” – so they can achieve these objectives.

“What you get your players to do” – to show you how the session is going to work and the actions the players are going to take. There are no exact measurements, or complicated patterns – the approach is “keep it simple”.

“What to call out” – handy phrases, apart from the usual words of encouragement, you can call out to focus your players on the core skills.

“What to look for” – to help you identify quickly where players might go wrong with their rucking so you can quickly put them right.

“What to think about” – questions you can ask of the players and yourself to ensure your team’s rucking remains potent in different situations and conditions.

“Developments” – each session includes a progressive element to develop and challenge the performance of players of all standards. For example, a game situation to test out your players rucking skills in a more competitive environment.

The Ruck and How to Win It is only available online. You cannot buy it in the shops or through any other publisher or distributor.

Take the opportunity now to own this valuable resource that can sharpen your team’s match day performance, and see the difference it can make in your next game.


Ebook, Print, Ebook + Print

3 reviews for The Ruck and How to Win it

  1. Avatar

    Nigel Connell

    I’m happy to say The Ruck and How to Win it is a great example of how a publication can address a very technical aspect of the game by providing clarity for coaches through a step by step approach to coaching.

    It should be an important part of any coaching library.

    – Nigel Connell – Reeds Weybridge RFC – UK

  2. Avatar

    Toby Eves

    For some reason we have always struggled to get our team to ruck well on a consistent basis, but Dan’s manual changed all that & opposition coaches now regularly comment on our team’s dynamic rucking & how it was the decisive factor in our winning the game!

    – Toby Eves – Assistant Coach – Cranleigh RFC U16s – UK

  3. Avatar

    Don Compton

    I’ve got to say an inspired purchase, really recommend this.

    It has helped focus on core points , with drills and exercises , and fully understandable, its been much easier to put sessions together.

    – Don Compton – Blackheath U12s – UK

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Jim Love is a New Zealand rugby union coach. He played for Marlborough, at the NPC, and was an international player for the New Zealand Māori team. He was also the coach for the Maori Squad, from 1998 to 2001, winning even 22 matches in a row. Jim also helped Marlborough to win the NPC Division Three in 1997.