Priority skills for rucking – attack breakdown

There are eight key factors for the ruck (attack breakdown) but if you had to concentrate on just one, here’s which would make the most difference to your players.


  1. Scan and identify the threats to the ball from the opposing team.
  2. Aim to win the race to the breakdown, beating the threat to the ball.
  3. Maintain a legal entry angle to the breakdown from the hindmost foot. Use footwork to flick your body around to have a square entry to the breakdown.
  4. On approach to the breakdown drop your body height and target the space just above the ball carrier’s body.
  5. Maintain a stable base with feet at least shoulder width apart.
  6. Win the chest height battle against your opponent and hit through the collision with shoulders.
  7. Maintain leg balance and drive through the contact aiming to stay on your feet.
  8. If you end up off your feet, pop up your hips and get on all fours supporting your own bodyweight.


Win the chest height battle against your opponent

Rucking is a physical action that requires bravery and good technique. It is important to try to maintain motion through the collision, so not to create a wrestling battle with the opposition that will slow up the ball speed of the breakdown. 

Therefore, it is vital to win the chest height battle against the opposition. Make sure that the body height is lower and closer to the ball carrier, forcing the opponent to use different techniques to move a solid body position. 

Having won the chest height battle, the player must drive through the contact and past the ball. 

Below are a couple of activities to put ruck skills under pressure. Use the key factors as coaching points for the individual working under pressure.




  1. One player (C) is working at lowering their body height at the breakdown. 
  2. Player (C) starts on their stomach, facing away from a ruck-pad holder. 
  3. Call out a colour of cone and the player (C) then jumps up and runs around the cone before running towards the tube, dropping their height, straddling the length of sausage before hitting the pad holder and driving through the contact.


  1. Player (C) is working on their attacking rucking. 
  2. Set the drill up with a live contact situation with Player (A) taking on Player (D) in a small space. 
  3. The defensive jackal (J), who is aiming to steal the ball,  starts closer to the contact area and looks to attack the ball. 
  4. As the jackal (J) moves into the breakdown area player (C) can move towards the breakdown, making sure ruck entry is legal and clean the jackal (J) away and past the ball.
Share this
Follow us