Bounce out: how your 9 attacks from the ruck

Bounce out is a term used to explain the action of the 9 when running away from a breakdown. Here’s how it works and how to practise it in a game-like situation.

Teams usually expect or like their 9 to move the ball away from the breakdown as quickly as possible. However, if a team has a quick or powerful 9 who is a running threat it can be a good attacking weapon for the 9 to run away from the breakdown and “bounce out” to try to attack the opposition’s second or third defender.

Attacking these defenders will make the defence turn their shoulders in and so create a seam to attack on the outside. As most defensive systems want their defenders around the ruck to stay in place and come forward, as the 9 runs, so they will turn in towards the 9.


  1. It’s important that the 9 runs an arc and squares up his running line to go forward and engage the defence.
  2. The initial movement sideways can start to drag the defence out of position and create weak points or holes in the defence. However, if the running line is too lateral the opposition defence can keep coming forward, so the run will take time and space away from the attack.


  1. Attackers need to adjust their running lines off the 9 and attempt to run through holes in the defensive line.
  2. As the 9 engages the defence, the attacking players around the 9 need to read the cues being given off by the defensive players and adjust their running lines accordingly.
  3. If the defenders around the ruck turn their shoulders in towards the running 9 then holes will be available on their outside shoulders. If the defence stays in place, space will open up for the 9 to attack the holes around them.


Here’s a good skill game to practise this tactic for the 9, the attackers around the 9 and the defence adjusting to a running 9 threat.

  1. Set up a ruck with cones, spreading out defenders and attackers as the picture shows.
  2. Encourage the 9 to run a wide arc to attack outside the second defender and inside the third defender. Attackers then need to adjust their running lines and react to how the defence reacts to the running 9.
  3. Start with giving 9 just two options, running and passing outside to the attackers on their outside, then build the game up with inside pass options to the player beind the 9 and individual running options through the line.
  4. Condition the defence to react in a certain way, for example, turning in and giving space on outside shoulders. If the attackers react well to this allow the defence to practise and defend as they would in a game. > Build the game up by making a tackle a two-handed touch around the waist, bringing an offload option from the 9 into play.
  5. To progress the game, add a second line of defence to practise finishing line breaks off the back of the running 9. Or add a 10, who stands behind the forwards as a wide option if the defence continually turn in.
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