Video: Why do coaches struggle to improve ruck decision-making?

Because there are so many possible situations at rucks, teaching these skills is a real challenge for coaches. You need to create a balance of good techniques first and then bring them into game contexts as soon as possible.

Here I’m going to share with you some of our grassroots rugby footage, plus some video analysis from the top of the game. You will see how you could easily the three exercises and games with a wide range of abilities and ages.

First, let’s focus on a technique. In Turning the contact area into a positive, we recognise that the ball carrier might be tackled. Players have to use their best footwork to win the collision if they can, and then place the ball back efficiently. This activity is a great warm-up for more contact-orientated exercises later in the session.

Now, you can put this footwork in a small-sided decision-making scenario. Sharper ruck decisions has players running into the contact area from different angles. They will have to decide how to win the contact and then win the ruck. This activity covers lots of ruck situations, so your focus could be on attack, defence, support roles as well as other specific ruck techniques.

The next two videos show how you can coach continuity and the associated skills through game learning.

In Going forward from every ruck, you will see that the players begin to develop a better awareness of realignment from a breakdown. The consequent outcomes are that they create more go-forward, which stresses defences. This, in turn, leads to fewer rucks. Watch how I introduce the game and then tease out the skills through gameplay.

The Snap back ruck game focuses on a particular technique. This video illustrates how it can be introduced into a game and how the players use the skill and many other skills around it to develop their gameplay. One of the key takeaways must be that the players develop an understanding of the context of the skill. That means they know why it’s important. If they know that, they are more likely to employ that skill in the game.

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