Clearing the low rucker without a croc roll

The defender who’s very low and over the ball at the tackle area is very difficult to remove. If you decide not to coach the “croc roll”, what are your alternatives.

A defender who is clamped onto the ball in a low position has won the race for the space over the ball and is tough to remove. To deal with this situation, there’s prevention and cure. And like most medicines, cure is more painful than prevention.


  • The ball carrier should fight to the ground in the tackle area. That means he’s constantly a moving target and hard for the supporting defenders to latch onto quickly.
  • Once on the ground, he should be rolling and shifting his body, and if possible with the ball under his body for some of that time. It can’t be slow otherwise the referee will penalise him for holding onto the ball.
  • Eventually he should post the ball as far back from the body as possible. As a last resort, he could even roll the ball away from the body.

Supporting players have a role to play in this as well. The nearest player to the ball carrier is often the player who last passed the ball, and he should aim to get in behind the ball carrier if he senses that there’s going to be contact.

All players have to be ready to support the ball carrier, not just the forwards or the back row players.


  • With the defender over the ball, the clearing attacker might be able to grab an arm and drag him off the ball. This is rarely possible if the defender is clamped onto the ball.
  • Double team the defender, with a clearing player either side grabbing one arm of the defender and driving them back and over the ball.
  • The clearing attacker gets under the defender and then drives up. We can liken this to “surfing” over the body of the prone ball carrier.


  1. A player starts on his front.
  2. Develop so the surfers arrive from the left and the right. Then have a 1 v 1 in a small area, with a ruck-pad holder very close behind. He goes low over the tackle. A surfer then clears the pad.
  3. He runs to the tackle tube and “surfs” along the top.


The clearing attacker puts his chest onto the pad and drives up. He has to keep his hips square and make sure his feet are working hard. If done well, the defender over the ball will rise up with the impact.

For more ways to develop this exercise, have a look at this activity.

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