EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

The THREE myths of sevens

For most of us, the sevens season is short and it’s easy to forget lessons of previous years. This thrilling game requires a different mindset, so be aware of potential pitfalls and adapt your training accordingly.

MYTH 1 YOU SHOULD ALWAYS TRY TO AVOID CONTACT

With so much space on a sevens field, why would you want to go into contact? Well, consider this: in the HSBC Sevens World Series, a tackle/ruck/maul occurs every 22 seconds.

Many teams on the international circuit make the physical game their main weapon for three reasons:

  1. If you’re not a particularly quick team, the “ruck and recycle” can wear down the opposition.
  2. It’s a safer option, especially in poor weather.
  3. Good defences will get in between you if you keep throwing the ball around. Teams will employ an umbrella defence that comes up hard on the outside.

So take contact to create an offside line and force the defence to track back. Keep doing it and the defence will tire as it keeps going backwards.

TIP Spend time on your one man-in or two men-in ruck exercises. Even if you do want your team to play in the open spaces, there will always be times when they have to take contact.

MYTH 2 SCRUMS AND LINEOUTS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SET PIECES

In fact, kick-offs are the most common set piece in sevens. Over the course of a 14-minute game, you’ll probably encounter several kick-offs/restarts, whereas some games may never have a lineout and scrums can also be rare.

Kick-offs are very contestable and because the conceding team receives the restart in sevens – unlike in 15s – you have a greater chance of gaining possession and an instant opportunity to strike back. That said, some teams are choosing to kick long. At the recent World Series tournament in Las Vegas, Australia kicked 20 restarts and didn’t retain one of them, whilst New Zealand only won one (4%) of their 23 restarts.

TIP Spend more time practising kick-offs and restarts as it’s a critical area. Decide whether you want to regain possession or apply pressure by kicking deep.

MYTH 3 DON’T KICK UNLESS YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN LINE

Kicking away possession might seem ill-advised, especially since there’s so much space to run into. However, sevens is incredibly tiring. A long kick with a steady chase can drain the legs of the opposition.

If teams dispense with a sweeper, as England have often done in recent years, it leaves a lot of space behind the defensive line. This gives opportunities for a “chip and chase”. So encourage your players to work on their chasing tactics.

TIP Kick with a purpose – train for long kicks with a good chase, or short kicks to another player.

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