EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Reboot or kick out: Round the corner

Attacking the same way from each ruck, you set up an easy attacking pattern to work with. But does this become easy to defend too? Is it time to rethink this tactic?

Lots of teams default to a “round the corner” pattern of play, which is easy for forwards to work to and gives the sense of a plan. But it’s becoming also increasingly easy to defend and reduces attacking threats and efficiency.

WHAT IS IT?

After each ruck, the forwards run to the far side to take the ball up at the defence. Since these potential ball carriers are turning to face up the field, they are, in effect, turning a corner to then run straight.

WHY IT WORKS?

This tactic works because it can achieve two outcomes.

  1. It shortens the defensive line, because the first ruck draws in defenders from the open side. The defence has to send players to the far side to defend and if they don’t get there in time, then the lines has fewer players than previously.
  2. It literally “exhausts” the defence, as forwards chase (“fold”) around to get into the line. Eventually, gaps appear or the attack can switch back, facing a broken line and a good chance of mismatches.

WHY IT DOESN’T?

There are two main reasons why this tactic doesn’t always work.

  1. Tactically: If the forwards have to keep coming around the corner, any quick ball is slowed down as the 9 has to wait for the forwards to be in position. The forwards are also in danger on running into the passing channel between 9 and 10.
  2. Psychologically. The system becomes a default, with players running into position without looking at where the real weaknesses are in the opposition line. It also promotes one or two players who want to be the “ball carrier”, when you need variety in your attack.

A further reason is that it becomes predictable, so the defence doesn’t have to rethink where they need to defend.

REBOOT OR KICK OUT?

Certainly, you cannot simply zig-zag your attack all the time, moving the ball left and then right from each ruck and son on. Executed well, several attacks going the same way will cause the defensive line problems. But doing it every attack will just reduce the effectiveness as time goes on.

You can use in a limited form with a call such as Blue for two, Green for three. The forwards and the rest of team know that you will play that pattern for two or three phases and then 10 (or another decision-maker) will call to either play out to the backs, switch the play or kick.

Therefore, reboot your thinking. Call the pattern, don’t default to it. Vary when you use it and when you do, make sure the players perform it with conviction.

MAKE THE PLAY WORK

  • The forwards must move into position late and hard. Late means they accelerate onto the ball, hard means they go for gaps, so run straight and then angle in or out.
  • The 9 can either pick and pass or pick, run and pass. The pick and pass attacks narrow, the run and pass means the forwards attack wider. Only he can sense where the forwards are.
  • The 9 must listen to the 10 for changes in the play.

Here are some activities to develop this play:

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