Perfect ball presentation

Quick ruck ball starts with flawless presentation. In the latest in our technical series, we explain how to ensure your players are spot on with their technique so that the 9 gets the ball on a plate…

After the tackle is made, if the player can’t offload the ball as he’s falling to ground, he has to consider how to help his team retain possession. First and foremost, he has to keep busy. Whatever the type of tackle – dominant, neutral or passive – he has to get to the ground on his terms.

So the ball placement starts before the ball carrier even hits the ground. He’s twisting and turning and aiming to steal a few extra inches if he can.

Once down, he must decide on the best type of placement he can achieve. The ideal answer is the “pencil” or long placement, in which the feet are facing the opposition try line and the body is parallel to the touchline.

But this is difficult to achieve in most cases, so the next best placement is the “jack knife”, whereby the player bends in the middle with his feet and hands towards his own try line. We know what it looks like but let’s check on the detail below, plus look at a way of adding an extra protective element without resorting to a squeeze ball (which is illegal below U19 level).

See my ball placement session and, for added bite, my X-factor tips.


The “tackle gate” is the area in which the opposition can enter the breakdown. The wider the gate, the more places to enter and the more area to protect. Thus if the ball carrier can make the gate narrower as he goes to ground, it will be harder to steal the ball.

Share this
Follow us