Win more rucks with fewer numbers

Good decision-making is crucial if you’re to secure your ball without committing too many players – or know whether to compete when defending.

There are key two ruck decisions to make: numbers and style of rucking. How do players know whether to commit to the ruck or not?

The numbers dilemma

  • In attack, you want to secure your own ball quickly and still have enough players on their feet to support the next attack.
  • In defence, you want to disrupt their ball but not leave too many spaces in the line once the ball is released.

This decision depends on first, the style of rucking you use and second, the more dynamic situation of what the other side is doing. For example, out wide you may find it only takes a couple of players to win the rucks. In close quarters, with lots of their forwardscompeting, it may need more.

Insurance policies

There are, however, some basics of rucking that always apply:

  1. The player going in lower will win the majority of contests
  2. The quicker you are getting to the ruck, the more chance of success
  3. The rucker must understand what the referee wants

After that, you need to decide on your policies – that is, the style of ruck you want. For instance, in attack you might say that the first player to the ruck “blows” out any defenders and the second player “centres” over the ball.

Or you might say that both players secure the ball, perhaps “anchoring” over the ball, so they’re in effect sealing off the ball from the opposition. Perhaps you will choose to blow over the ball and leave no one sitting over it.

Dead or alive

In defence, the first players have to decide whether the ruck is dead or live. In other words, is it worth making an effort to go for the ball? A dead ruck is best left alone and the player should get into the defensive line.

Your policy might be to have a tackler plus one player always challenging for the ball or a tackler plus two.

Whatever your policies, you must put them in game scenarios to test their effectiveness.

Use Get your ruck angles right to put the rucking player under pressure to perform accurately.

Check that all the policies are practiced under pressure in a decision-making drill, Embedding your ruck policies.

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