Try savers, try scorers

Here is a rugby coaching session from my weekly Smart Sessions. It centres on some core rugby skills to help all players: 1) prevent tries by tackling very close to the line, and 2) score tries when receiving the ball very close to the line.

The rugby training session

Two players stand facing each other about 2 metres apart. There is a line between them. Another player stands off to the side with a ball. He throws the ball to one player who then has 5 seconds to try to put the ball down over the line. The other player tries to save the try. Adapt the distances according to success.

What you tell your players to do in the drill

  1. Tacklers: work hard to get your body and arms between the ball and the ground.
  2. Ball carriers: drive forward low and turn to get the ball to the ground.

What to call out in the drill

  • "Tackler: pull the ball into the ball carrier."
  • "Tackler: get your hips level and under the ball carrier's hips."
  • "Ball carrier: keep the ball away from your body."
  • "Ball carrier: twist and roll as you fall."

What rugby skills to look for

Too few tries being scored. The ball carriers and supporting players must try to keep some forward momentum going.

Too many tries being scored. Defenders must drive the ball carrier back and try to clamp the ball between themselves and the ball carrier.

Develop the rugby coaching session

  1. Vary the height of the initial pass – some very low, or on the ground, some high.
  2. Let one of the players start with the ball, but stipulate the position they must start in. For example, with the ball at their feet, or facing away from the defender.
  3. Add a second player to each side.
  4. Replicate a saving tackle from a covering player. Start with the defender one or two metres to the side the attacker, with the attacker a metre further back from the line.
  5. Allow both players to move along the line, so the defender can track the attacker until the ball is passed.

Putting the rugby drill session into a game situation

A three v two, five box game: Set up a number of 5 metre square boxes, a few metres apart. Have a "try line" running through each box 1 metre from one end (put the boxes across a real try line for instance). Put a ball by the side of each box.

Split your players so you have two defenders and three attackers to each box. The attackers start from the end furthest from the line across the box. The defenders must stay behind the try line.

When you're ready, pass the ball to the attackers, who attempt to score. If they don't score within a set time period (say 20 seconds), start again. After a couple of sets, change the players around. Don't use any more than five players in a game.

What to think about with your players

Does the way your players tackle change depending on the relative sizes of the ball carrier and the tackler? When and how could the ball carrier change the height at which they drive for the line? Too low and they might lose crucial momentum just before line, too high and they become an easier target to drive back. With two players defending the line, how might they organise to tackle the ball carrier?

Click on the links below to download copies of my new look Smart Sessions. Visit the Smart Sessions website to learn more about these weekly rugby coaching plans, and about a fantastic offer to tempt you to join up – click here.

Smart Sessions Advanced Skills

Smart Sessions Core Skills

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