Pre season tactics: 30 minute session to prepare the backs

Start with second phase 4v3

While most coaches would get players going through simple handling moves up and down the pitch, I would cut straight to a pressure situation. The key is though when to turn up the pressure.

Set up a 4v3 with either you or a scrum half feeding the ball. The distances apart dictate the pressure, as does the conditions you put on the defence.

To start with, the defence should be farther back than for a normal game situation and the three defenders should not be allowed to drift out once the ball has been passed.

So in the first five minutes you are working on handling, running lines, communication and defence systems. Make sure you mix the first receiver around, but have your fly half or inside centre there more often than not.

Encourage dummy passes, but don’t use switches or misses at this stage.

For more advanced sides, you might want to introduce “unders” and “overs” running lines. This is where the potential ball receiver either runs out and then in towards the ball carrier (“unders”) or vice versa (“overs”), to wrong-foot their marker.


Two second phase top moves

Once you have worked through the simple handling exercises it is time to have a couple of moves that can be set and run quickly off second phase ball – that is from a ruck or maul. Again, introduce and practise these with a 4v3 line, varying which one you use.

A) Miss pass – Either the first or second receiver passes the ball in front of the player next to him to another player farther away. Always ensure that the “missed” player looks like he is going to receive the ball, and the passer passes the ball farther in front of the receiver than for a shorter pass.

B) Switch (or wrap switch) – Switch passes, where the ball carrier and receiver change the direction of the play, can create holes in the defence and prevent drift defences being so effective. A wrap switch has the receiver turning immediately he receives the ball, and going through the space left by the run of the original ball carrier.

Two killer moves

With maybe half the time left, you should spend no more than 10 minutes perfecting two “killer” moves from first phase. These are backline moves which you believe your backs will score from.

The main thought should be not what you know has worked in the past, but what will work for the skill set in front of you. Passing ability, speed and the game-breaking runner should be considered before working out what to use.

Backline defence

With such a short time available, two defensive issues need to be discussed.

  1. The midfield three (10, 12 and 13) need to decide on their spacing, line speed and direction when defending in different parts of the pitch. If I have the backline with me, then I will use the wingers, full back and scrum half as a backline to test the defence of the 10, 12 and 13.
  2. You need to work out whether the winger is going to stay wide or defend next to the outside centre.
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