EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Your 3-point ruck plan

For something so quick, there are a lot of decisions that go into a ruck. So to gain clarity in your decision-making, break down the breakdown by separating which techniques to use and when…

Winning rucks relies on three key factors – choosing the right technique to use, executing that technique properly, and committing the right number of players.

The right technique splits into two areas: ball placement and the threats to the ball. A threat to the ball might need to be rolled away, cleared over the ball or stopped from getting to the ball.

If we put this into a decision-making plan, we can pull these into three points:

1 DEALING WITH THE BALL ON THE GROUND

The ball carrier, after being tackled and brought to ground, has to decide which ball placement works best for him. He knows that he needs to get the ball away from the defence, but can’t always use the gold-standard long placement (also known as the pencil placement) where his body is parallel to the touchline.

So he needs to keep the ball “active” in the placement. The player should use his legs and hips to wriggle and worm his way to the ground.

Ireland are one team who are very good at this, and they’re also busy on the ground. They work hard to adjust their bodies to place the ball, keeping it moving for as long as possible, so giving the opposition less chance to steal.

2 DEALING WITH THREATS TO THE BALL

Once the ball is placed, the next supporting players have to decide where the threats to the ball are. If there are no close defenders then the decision is easy: clear the ball.

However, on most occasions, there are going to be some defenders close by. Depending on how close and what they do, the next supporting player has to decide which technique to use.

Normally, the key factor is the height of the threat. Getting under the threat and over the ball is best. But if that threat is quick and low, then he has to be pushed away and pulled over (in a wrestling-type move).

Use Tosh Askew’s activity to work on the best body angles to deal with the threat. Then use my session on page 9 to work more game-like scenarios into a small-sided activity.

3 CLEARING THE BALL

Once the ball is won, it needs to be cleared. Normally this is done by the 9, but if you win quick ball and the 9 is off his feet, other players have to step in.

Sometimes a forward put in this position might not trust his pass and so will pick and go. But encourage your players to take responsibility should a clearing pass be the obvious option.

Use this good clearing activity which is aimed at your all players.

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