EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Fix a defender and pass

Hold defenders to retain space for receivers to move into. Here are the key points to fixing defenders which should help young and developing players to improve this skill.

Generally, defenders want to chase the ball carrier, but their mind is always on whether to stay on the current ball carrier or move onto potential receivers. As the ball carrier, your players have a responsibility to fix the defender and if possible move them away from a potential receiver. At mini level over-exaggeration of this skill will help your players.

SUCCESSFUL FIXING POINTS

  1. Putting the ball under one arm certainly will attract the defender, but ensure your players have the ability to quickly get it into two hands before passing.
  2. Run forward fast at game speed
  3. Run at the opposite side of the defender to where you are passing.
  4. Look at the defender and try to make him look at you and not possible receivers.
  5. Pass when the defender looks set to tackle. This can be early than you think if you are really forcing the defender to follow you.

TRY THE FRENCH METHOD

In France coaches also teach young players to fix the defender by blocking their path onto the receiver. To do this the ball carrier runs at the near side shoulder of the defender and as the defender is about to tackle passes the ball to his receiver, legally blocking the direct path between defender and receiver.

TRAINING TIPS

  1. Make sure you practice passing both left and right.
  2. Only perform 2 v 1 once in each attempt, not multiple attempts through a channel. It helps players focus on the skill and not a secondary outcome.

EXAGGERATED MOVEMENT PRACTICE

The ball carrier pulls the defender into one of the outside channels, before passing to his support player. At mini level it is good practice to over-do the fixing a defender concept, so that the players really get a feel for what they are doing.

  1. The attacker runs up a narrow channel. They then step out and pass back in.
  2. The defender has to mirror the ball carrier.
  3. The supporting player should be running onto the ball (and calling).

MAKE SURE PASSING IS A SIDEWAYS ACTIVITY

The first principle of rugby is to go forward. If you cannot go forward, you then pass the ball to someone else who can go forward.

So, from your going forward position, facing up the field, you pass the ball across your body to a team mate. You do not, or rarely do you, turn to face him and pass it from the belly button outwards.

Further to that, to fix a defender (see above), you need to be facing forwards, otherwise the defender can easily drift from the passer to the receiver.

To improve your players’ passing, you have to work on both handling skills (that’s catching and passing in different directions) and sideways passing skills.

The most common way is to run lines of three or four players up and down a box, passing as they do so. Though it is not the most exciting exercise, it can form part of a warm-up routine and at least ensures some habit forming. Best to run the exercise over a short distance, concentrating mostly on the middle player or players. In a two minute, burst of activity, each player should be passing “sideways” at least six times.

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