EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Strike better as a hooker

The new scrum laws mean we know what to expect. The hooker’s under more pressure and he has to strike the ball cleanly. Here’s how to bind up more comfortably and hook quicker.

Unless you have a dominant scrum, you can’t “walk over” the ball on the put-in and the referee must see (if they can!) an attempt to strike the ball. Hookers need to learn to “hook” .

They must strike the ball cleanly and retain a strong scrummaging position straight afterwards.

BRAKE FOOT

The hooker sets the mark for the scrum, with his striking foot forward. We call this the brake foot because it keeps the rest of the front row balanced as it leans forward.

On “set”, the brake foot goes back. It is ready to come forward to strike the ball.

BINDING TO KEEP SQUARE

The hooker binds over the backs of his two props, with the top of his body square. Hookers will tend to either bind just under the armpits or the shoulders of their props. He doesn’t want to get hunched and lose his strong shape.

If you look at the bound-up front row, you should see six shoulders. The binding should allow that to happen. While the shoulders are square, the hooker’s lower body has to be able to twist. First, to strike for the ball, second, to get back quickly into position to push.

STRIKE THE TRIANGLE

The striking foot moves through two sides of a triangle. First, the foot comes out and towards the ball. Then, it drags the ball back through the legs of the loose-head (also see “channel 2” above).

To do this, the hips have to be open, and not square. This isn’t a comfortable position, so he shouldn’t twist until the last moment.

Normally, the 9 touches the hand of the 2 and then the ball is put-in. That works better than the hooker flapping his hand, because there isn’t a verbal signal from the referee any more.

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