Adaptive games: A coaching guide to “All Blacks touch”

Don’t just play a game in training, make sense of it for you and your players. London Irish Academy Coach Development Officer, Rhys Davies develops “All Blacks touch”.


One team are the All Blacks, they only have one phase to score. The other team have unlimited touches.

The game can be touch or contact, depends what you are trying to focus on.

Alternative rules of when that one phase is over can be:

  • The attacker is touched.
  • The attacker is touched and cannot offload within 1 second.
  • The attacker is doubled touched (touched by two defenders at the same time) – if they are touched once they have to pass within three seconds.
  • The attacker is grabbed and held by one player.
  • The attacker is grabbed and held and cannot pass the ball within three seconds. A touch is with two hands below the waist.

The All Blacks always restart so they have an opportunity to try to tactically apply pressure through a kick on a certain area, for example a short kick, a long kick, low kick or high kick.

You can give the All Blacks the option to rip the ball out of the attacker’s hands when they are in defence.

Remember that both sides can kick.

Double figures on each side would be ideal, but not necessary.

The youngest year group this works with is the lowest age group of kicking.


The All Blacks have to think about ways to score without losing the ball in the “tackle” or tactically pick areas in which to play the game – kick long and apply pressure.

They also to think about ways to get the ball back. We want them to be constantly thinking tactically about where they are on the pitch to help them better understand the decisions to make – run, kick or pass.


  1. Restarts – can we introduce a scrum (e.g. 3 v 3) or lineouts (e.g. 2 v 2).
  2. Individuals – what did you see, what can you tell me
  3. Pressure constraints – can we point the players in different places on the pitch, different score lines, different times, e.g 3 minutes left on the clock you are 5 behind.


Questions to challenge the players

  • Where am I on the pitch, does that affect my decision? Run, kick, pass. Does my decision change if I am the other team?
  • How best can we support the team and the space? Examples of techniques and tactics could be: Lifts, tips and offloads, width, support line.
  • What opportunities are available? Examples could be: Space behind, mismatch for speed and pace, numbers up.


Questions to challenge the players

  • How best can we get the ball back? Examples could be: Interceptions, contested kicks, contest in contact areas (ruck, tackle).
  • How can we manipulate the attack play? Examples could be: Numbers on feet, painting pictures, space traps.
  • How am I supporting the defence? Do I need to compete? Examples could be: Fill the field, double hit, self-organising.

Download a printable session reminder sheet here: All Black touch session reminder



Examples for skills zones to use when you want to focus on an element of the game. Click on the links for more ideas.

  1. Quick passing.
  2. Long passing.
  3. Offloading.
  4. Create width in attack.


Here are some options to run the session.

  1. Whole-part-whole: Start with the game, break out into some skills zones, then return to the game.
  2. Game constraints (low load), game constraints (medium load). Start with the game, but give the All Blacks two or three phases to score. Or, take players from one team and add to the other, to create different overloads, depending on who scores. Or reward the All Blacks that scores with an extra phase in the next round.
  3. This week, next week, the week after: Play the game this week for a short amount of time, say 10 minutes. Return to it next week, then return to it three weeks after that. Each time you repeat the game, ask the players before they start, what they would do different. This layers their tactical appreciation.


Lifts – Can the tackled player lift the ball off the ground after contact? Can they lift the ball to their support player in contact?

Tips – Can the ball carrier make a short pass to the supporting player just before contact.

Width – Can the attacking team stay spread out across the pitch?

Support line – The runner running towards the opposition try line in close proximity to the ball carrier.

Space behind – The space behind the defence which can be exploited with kicks.

Mismatch for speed and pace – Someone with more speed the opposition player in front of them. For example, a winger v a prop.

Numbers on feet – More players on their feet on the field, which means those who are not on the ground or wrestling in a ruck.

Painting pictures – What the attack sees or then tries to create with their plays. The defence is bunched together or spread out across the field or has players looking to cover kicks.

Space traps – The defence showing the attack opportunities (space) to attack, different to what they would normally see to fool them into a false sense of security.

Fill the field – Spreading out across the field.

Double hit – Two players from one team involved in a tackle.

Self-organising – The players, not the coaches, resetting themselves in attack and defence before and during game play.


Here are some examples of other games which help players work on support and continuity.

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