EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Skills for support players at the ruck

Oh dear. It looks like the ball carrier hasn’t done a good job in presenting the ball and the supporting player is too late.

We’ve already talked about the ball carrier’s skills. What can the support player do better?

SCANNING

The support player needs to assess the threats to work out whether they need to join the ruck or not. It’s no point “wasting a bullet” by joining a ruck with no further threat to the ball. They should be getting ready for the next phase of play.

ANGLES

A support player should arrive facing up the pitch so they can drive out and away the threats. Notice the deliberate angle change. Sometimes it is called an L-shape. This is because the support player is arriving from the side originally, and then has to turn to face up the pitch.

BODY HEIGHT

“Low man wins”. On most occasions, the player who is the lowest and most balanced will be able to drive back an opposition player. Managing body height is difficult because you have to bend at the hips and knees and still go forward.

BODY SHAPE

Once in, or just before contact, the player needs to be strong. If, as in 1, they lean forward, they expose their neck and lose they dynamics. In 2, the player is able to meet on-coming players and push them back.

LEG DRIVE

In contact, the most effective players step forward, bending and straightening at the knee. Note that the player should keep their hips and shoulders in line.

CLEARING THE THREATS

A supporting player uses these skills to clear the threats. In training, you will build up a variety of skills to suit each scenario. There is no one way which covers all eventualities.

Which skills to use will depend on whether the support player is early, same time or late.

Early means they adopt a strong body position and then deflect threats.

Same time means they meet the threat as both go for the ball.

Late mean they have to move the threat from the ball.

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