Rugby coaching tips and drills for clearing and parking

In a tackle situation, the ball carrier should do everything they can to present the ball with two hands back towards their team-mates. Retaining possession is then about the support players and the options they take.

  1. If there are no opposition players they can pick the ball up and run or pass.
  2. If an opponent is on their feet trying to win the ball, the supporter needs to drive or “clear” them out, leaving the ball free for the next support player.
  3. If the defenders have been driven away but there is no time to make a pass, the supporter should “park” over the ball to secure it.

Clearing opponents away

When clearing defenders away from the ball, it’s important to have the right attitude as well as good technique.

  • Arrive in a low driving position with your head up.
  • Bind onto team-mates as you arrive.
  • Target one opponent only and drive them back.
  • Bind onto opponents and use leg drive to clear them backwards or to the side.

Parking over the ball

Parking over the ball helps secure possession. You are forming a ruck, so defenders have to stay onside.

  • Arrive in a low position onto the clearing player in front. This keeps the ball in the ruck.
  • Stay on your feet and ensure the ball stays between your feet. This keeps the ball secure.
  • Keep the low body position until the scrum half picks the ball out and passes. 

Rugby drills to get players clearing and parking

  • Organise your players into groups of two defenders and four or five attackers. The ball carrier takes the tackle and presents the ball.
  • The first two or three support players clear away the second defender. The third or fourth support player parks over the ball. The final support player picks up the ball to run with it or pass it away.
  • Walk through this rugby drill first, correcting the players’ technique until they’re comfortable with their roles. Then increase the pace to a jog, then full speed. 

Click here for another article on clearing and parking tactics.

Click the link to order a copy of The Ruck and How to Win It. This manual can help sharpen your players’ skills, boost your side’s technical expertise and channel your team’s aggression to create a successful “rucking machine”.

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