Rugby tips for coaching an advantage

In the case of an openside flanker, for instance,  the key rugby coaching areas to work on are:

  • The ruck.
  • The tackle.
  • Offside.
  • Open field “blocking.”

Key rugby coaching tips to help players ‘know their rights’

It’s crucial for your rugby players to know what they can do, and what they can “get away with”.

The ruck: In the ruck the ball must be released. Now most referees at the top level will shout “Ruck – hands off” before penalising players. And elite players will always wait for this instruction before making any effort to stop competing for the ball with hands.

The tackle: The tackler can enter a tackle situation from any angle. They just need to be on their feet. So when a player makes a tackle, he gets to his feet immediately and plays the ball. No need to scoot around to go back and through the “gate”.

Offside: At tackle and ruck situations the “gate” through which a player can enter is clearly defined… in theory. During a game, however, it’s a different matter. The gate will frequently move around as the ball carrier, tacklers and others push, pull and adjust themselves.

To many referees, therefore, it’s the perception of the gate that’s important – it’s what looks right that matters. So some astute players will often enter the gate through the corners, gaining an advantage because they will be attacking closer to the ball, but further from the momentum of the opposition.

Open field “blocking”: If you are in front of the ball, you cannot obstruct another player. While there are a few instances of “cute” play at the top level, for instance a player might lean into an opponent, players commonly run obtuse lines in front of oncoming defenders to disrupt them.

Decision making

It’s the speed of decision making that marks out top players. Every situation should be scanned and the maximum impact the player can make will be calculated. An intelligent player will weigh up a ruck and think about whether he needs to clear out an opposition player, protect the ball, or stay out, ready for the next piece of action.

Get your players thinking the same. Don’t let them have one style of rucking, but instil an awareness of the best outcome for them and the team.

Team work

Your rugby drills and practices can focus on looking to find the edge. Your selection policy can reflect what you require from your openside flanker. Do they have the right mental approach in terms of their understanding of the laws and their “rights”, and can they make good decisions quickly?

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