Emphasise the right footwork and body height through the contact area. It will allow better ball retention and more chances to maintain continuity.
As a ball carrier approaches a defender he wants to keep the ball away from the grasping hands that prevent offloads and slow down placement.
I want to look at footwork and body height, allowing the ball carrier to use his fend. First, the ball carrier has to engage the defender – that is make him sit down ready to make a tackle. Then the ball carrier has to power past the defender, moving to his edges.
You may well have heard of the expression, “go for the branches, not the tree”. That holds true at all levels of the game.
The power step is, in fact, two steps.
The first step moves the attacker diagonally to the side of the defender.
The second step straightens him up again to squeeze through the gap.
Unlike a dancer who keeps himself upright and balanced, a rugby player has to lower his body height. This is so the player can resist contact more effectively, leaning forward in the process.
It is easy to see which players achieve this change in body height because they are continuing forward, even if they are taking a bash from a defender (and a ruck pad holder in training).
With good ball manipulation, the ball carrier can now use his inside arm to fend off the defender. This helps create space between the defender and the ball, allowing the ball carrier to potentially offload.
Therefore, the procedure for the ball carrier receiving the ball close to contact, is: Catch, transfer and lock the ball on the outside; power step and fend.
The mindset for the ball carrier and his supporters, so they can be in the best position for the offload, is the inside fend and outside offload. This is where the ball carrier can “cat-flap” the ball. That is, pass out of the back of his hand. The supporting players aim to flood through if the ball carrier wins the collision.
Use my power step activity to work on keeping the ball safe and attacking the edges of defenders while still going forward.
Make your players transfer the ball into the correct hand and use footwork before contact so they can get to the edges of defenders and keep the ball secure. This activity combines simple ball manipulation with footwork to build good habits in contact. MORE
Then, develop this by using my step and offload activity which works on the role of the support player too.
Quick ball manipulation allows players to keep the ball free in contact. Then, they can offload it to support players, who are confident they can take a pass from the ball carrier. If the ball carrier half breaks a tackle, he is in a position to offload. Support runners need to run the right lines to support this pass. He also needs to fend off with his inside arm to free up the outside arm.
Make sure your players take off when they arrive at the tackle contest – they should “land” first and then drive up. This activity will reinforce the correct technique and put your team on the front foot. MORE
To help your team dominate the contact area, players need to be low and able to drive forward. Get your players to work in strong body positions by taking up the shapes of gorillas, and then driving through. MORE
No matter how a player is tackled, placing the ball back is a matter of timing. Once it’s placed, it’s fair game for the opposition – so keep active for longer in the first of our core series on winning the ruck. MORE
Good ball placement is non-negotiable. It reduces the risk of a turnover, allows the next players to clear threats quickly and enables the 9 to clear the ball fast. Use this activity to get it spot on. MORE
Good repetition builds good habits – so make a core skill a core part of your warm-up with this contact exercise. Players should concentrate on making their ball placement and clear-out skills accurate. MORE
If a player is isolated after being tackled, all is not lost. A quick ball release and regaining of his feet might allow him to regather the ball and keep going forward. Work on this often-forgotten skill here. MORE
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Like other disciplines, rugby has a jargon of its own.
Unless the meanings are explained they can be meaning-less.
That's why I've explained them in plain, simple English and with large, clear illustrations in my manual Rugby Tactics Made Simple.
But not only that, you'll learn how to coach the tactics with my tips. If you’re new to coaching or prefer a more simple style this is a great, straightforward introduction to rugby tactics.
"It highlights the key fundamentals of all aspects of play & gives coaches a good understanding of terminology and techniques at the highest level"- Richard Whiffin, assistant coach at London IrishMORE
Anxious about coaching rugby to children? Maybe you're already coaching, but sometimes struggling to get your points across at training?
Perhaps you sometimes simply run out of preparation time? Possibly you're feeling your sessions are getting dull?
Do you want a few new skills to boost your player's skills now? Or to help your players develop the techniques for seasons ahead? Maybe even the core skills for their whole rugby playing career?
Here's the answer... MORE