Rugby drills for cleaning out rucks

Coach this technique by getting your players under the opposition players’ chest. If there are hands on the ball, latch onto the arms and squeeze. This will pull the hands away from the ball and unbalance the opposition player.

Arrive at an angle

I like my players to arrive at the breakdown and clear the player over the ball away from a slight angle. A well-placed defender is likely to be strongest down the middle, and more vulnerable to being driven away if the cleaner drives in from an angle.

However, the cleaner needs to make sure they are arriving “through the gate” of the rugby tackle. This means not cleaning from the side of the tackle.

Tips to clear the player over the ball away from a slight angle

Pulling a player over or to the side

If the opposition player is set in a good position, it normally means it’s difficult to drive them backwards. If this is the case, try to get your players to pull them to the side.

An easy rucking masterclass drill would be set up a player who’s in a strong position over a ball. To add stability, have this player rest both hands on top of the ball. Then get the cleaner to walk in and grab the arms and shirt of the player on the ball and pull them to one side.

Clean over the head

I see quite a lot of rugby drills where rugby players drive bags away from the ball on the floor, but also away from the periphery.

The ball is the key – players to the side of the ball cannot compete for the ball, so leave them alone. Clean over the “head” – drive through and over where the ball is lying.

rugby tips to clean over the head

Place the ball the long way

Quick ball comes from keeping it away from the opposition. We practise placement when the player goes to ground. The ball should be placed as far away from the body as possible, making it more difficult for the opposition to reach it.

Click here to order Jim Love and Dan Cottrell’s coaching manual The Ruck and How to Win It. The aim of this manual is to sharpen your players’ skills, boost your side’s technical expertise and channel your team’s aggression to create a powerful rucking machine.

Click here for more rugby coaching tips to help your players win quick ruck ball.

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