A session from games to rucks

Reader and Level 2 coach Lloyd Hankins outlines a session he used to improve rucking, and how he developed it using games.

I coach the girls’ teams at Ashby RFC, which includes the U11s, U13s, U15s and U18s, I do this with the support of several others, including seven keen and enthusiastic young women who are the future of the Ashby Girls.

On this particular Tuesday evening, my aim was to improve the ruck and specifically increase the speed to get into the ruck.  After reading one of the latest issues of Rugby Coach Weekly, I gained some useful direction for the session and used it to formulate a plan.


I started the session with a game of touch. I normally start this five minutes before the session begins and I use it as a way to get the girls straight into the session.  

Previously they would gossip and hug a lot before the session and motivating them to start would be difficult. With a touch game they would all be involved and they would start straightaway.

In the next phase, they paired up and we did some dynamic warm ups, which included one-on-one wrestling, which helps break the barrier of handling each other.


The next phase saw the girls split into three different mini-games: Piggy in the middle, Kabaddi, and PacMan, with the coaches split between the games.

Kabbadi is a great game to introduce contact into the session. In simple terms, split into two teams of four. A raider from one time goes into the box of the other team, tries to touch a defender before returning to their own box without being stopped. 

It was the first time I had used PacMan. I was impressed on how the girls engaged in it and easy the coaches took to it. It had the benefit of the ”ghosts” discussing their tactics on how to avoid PacMan. 

One of the other interesting developments was the treatment of corners and a discussion on the lack of corners in rugby, which then led to the development of side-step skills.


After this phase, the girls were suitably warmed up, smiling and eager to continue the training.  We went straight into one-on-one rucking, where we discussed body positioning and techniques on winning the rucking.  

There was a quick question and answer session where the girls concluded that one main way of winning the ruck was to get there first, and be in the right position.

We then continued with one-one rucking, with the girls separated into two teams. Based on the question and answer session, we scored them: 2 points for winning the ruck, 5 points for body position and 10 points for getting to the ruck first.

This led into 2 v 2 and 4 v 4 games with the girls getting excited as they gained more points. We then brought it into a game.  The main condition was that three rucks had to be completed before a try could be scored.

I was really impressed by the girls’ energy and enthusiasm. Tackles were beginning to be made efficiently and quickly with the tackler sequentially engaging in the ruck.

For me, it felt that it was a thoroughly enjoyable session and the girls (and their parents) said they loved it. That’s as important as whether they have effectively completed the skills, which in this case, they did.


  • The positives were fun, high active engagement from all abilities, with much more willingness to engage in the ruck with speed and good positioning.
  • The negatives were the defensive line was not being formed each time. Although the rucks were good and efficient, the space outside was not being considered with gaps were being left, so obvious work for next session.
  • Perhaps I need to change or add in some extra points for better defensive positions. More questions to put to the girls.
  • The other negative was that I am still unsure if the girls know who PacMan was! 

A one v one ruck in progress. 2 points for winning the ruck, 5 points for a good body position and 10 points for getting to the ruck first

The players watch, because they know the ruckers are scoring points. They came up with the points system based on what they thought was important

Share this
Follow us