Playing rugby into the wind

Playing in wet and windy conditions is always a challenge, but if you stick to a few basic principles you can minimise the effect of the weather and still play forceful rugby.

Into the wind

Playing into a strong wind should not be seen as a negative thing. Teams can perform better playing into the wind if they have the self-belief that they can still play rugby.

If your team is playing into the wind in the first half, then you can tell them the other team is learning how to use the wind. Your team can learn from their tactics and use them in the second half.

If you are into the wind in the second half, then the opposition is under pressure to use this wind to their advantage. You will also know how to defend more effectively having found out what has worked and not worked for them.

Kicking game

The strongest wind can almost totally remove the option of kicking from any position on the field. While this can have its drawbacks, you can also use it as a positive motivation for your team. Give them licence to play with the ball in hand and take the attack to the opposition.

When you do kick, keep the ball low or use a grubber kick along the ground. Only kick to touch from penalties if you are near the touchline and don’t worry about distance – just make touch.

Only kick at goal from close range and to touch from near the touchlines. In the middle of the pitch, use organised tap penalties to gain ground and secure possession. Alternatively, you can opt for a scrum.

You have an advantage at restarts because the wind will hold the ball up meaning you can get more “hang time” on the kick. Challenge at every kick off and try to win the ball, or at least force the opposition to knock on.

Passing basics

The wind will push the ball towards the receiver so your players should align deeper and passes should be floated out in front of the receiver.

This makes it easier for players to run on to the ball at pace providing they come from depth. Loose passes or players overrunning passes are common so the focus must be on accuracy.

Blown-back passes



Playing into the wind is all about keeping possession for as much of that half as you can. Players cannot afford to get isolated with the ball and risk a turnover.

Play one or two-pass rugby with runners off 9 and 10 to pull the opposition defenders in. If you attack wide, the inside passers must support the ball as it moves along the line.

Running down the clock can be a risky tactic but take your time at scrums and lineouts. Unless ruck ball is immediate then treat it as slow ball – remember, slow ball is already slow so take time to get the next phase of runners organised before playing it – although you do only have five seconds once the ref calls “use it!”

Emphasise the need for “no-risk” rugby, no 50/50 passes and, if in any doubt, hold the ball, take contact and recycle it.

Attitude to play

Players need to know that playing positively into a wind is possible but it requires concentration and a willingness to work hard.

Players should be encouraging each other, especially when mistakes are made. Heads are bound to drop if, after multiple phases of play, the ball is lost and the opposition kicks it 60m down the pitch.

This article is from Rugby Coach Weekly.

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