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Archive for April, 2012

I may have made reference before to a high school girls’ team I once coached to a city championship title.  I’m indebted to them not just for memorable season, but also for having the will to try some unorthodox strategies I had that I was sure would work for novice players.  I’ll talk more about our attack strategy soon as I finalise a clear way of describing and visualising it.  It all came about when someone asked what plays I wanted them to run.  As someone quickly suggested what they’d run last year I interrupted her because one of the first was the classic fly half / centre switch.  I was maybe a bit blunt in saying so, but on the spot I declared that we wouldn’t have any “plays” this year.  Needless to say, the girls were speechless.  I am thankful, though, that there weren’t immediate protests and not even sideways glances (that I noticed, anyway) to suggest ‘this guy is crazy’.  I quickly explained myself, though, saying that we can waste a lot of training time working on set moves that we might use once, maybe two or three times a game … or over use them to the point that teams have us figured out.  I also stressed that the rigid “plays” teams run – especially at such a novice level – often cause players to miss the obvious opportunities given to them by defenders who aren’t absolutely perfect at defending in line and with quality.

To give you a sneak peak of the larger strategy-focused article to follow, our simple game plan was to get the ball away from the mass of defenders, take it into space with determination and support the ball carrier.  I might not even need the article, because that’s as simple as it needs to be.  (I will, however, discuss how we conceptualised it and how we trained for it!)

But let’s turn to the suggestion that prompted my almost-brusque outburst.  The word ‘switch’ made me cringe as I disagree with the way it is used in seemingly nine times out of ten.  With that team, I talked about the simple two or three-player moves that should not be called as “plays” but should happen on the fly to create space.  A switch is one of those.  To be used not as a set play, but as a move to be used on the fly to create space or expose poor defenders.

The point of the switch should be to draw the defender marking the ball carrier with a sharp outward cut, allowing a strike runner to a cut back into the space created.  Where space isn’t that obvious, players should look to expose what some coaches (citation pending when I remember where I read /heard that phrase!) refer to as the ‘soft shoulder’.  The player switching back shouldn’t be running straight into a drifting defender, but off that player’s inside shoulder.  With their hips turned in pursuit of the ball carrier who initiated the switch, it’s very hard, if not impossible for that player to make a tackle on his or her inside, or soft shoulder.

[diagram]

Nine times out of ten, however, I see the switch being used on first phase, close to the mass of defenders around the ruck where it’s nearly impossible for the ball carrier to avoid running into someone.  Some coaches would probably argue that their purpose is to set up a ruck and draw defenders inward for the next phase.  I think this is negative rugby, contrary to the principles of going forward and maintaining continuity.  I’d also counter argue by asking, first, did you not have the ability to attack with more ambition on the first phase?  Lastly, I’d point out that regardless of the ability of your players, there are more clever ways of actually making and breaking the gain line than by running back into the mass of defenders.

Some also use the dummy switch, whereby the ball carrier holds and goes himself or passes to a player outside, hoping to draw defenders in on the decoy runner.  This was quite effective for great ball carriers like Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau when they played for the Brumbies and Wallabies.  The difference between the way they executed it and how most others use the dummy switch is simply down to the angle.  Most dummy switches I see have the ball carrier running nearly sideways across the field in order to ‘sell’ the dummy by pretending to do the motion of the pass.  First off, the angle all but eliminates the ball carrier as a true attacking threat as they’re not really going forward looking for space – most dummy switches are seemingly meant to fake inside and pass outside to, say, the outside centre or full back.  Most teams choose one of the best attacking players as their fly half, so why take him/her out of the equation by making them run across the field?  Secondly, the act of faking the pass – pulling the ball to the other side of the body and twisting the shoulders around – not only wastes time, in my opinion, but makes it hard to make a proper pass outward if that’s the intent of the move.

A player cutting on a good 45 degree angle to his right will have his hands positioned to make a left handed pass.  The act of faking the switch pass brings the ball to his right side.  In order to allow the body to provide power and accuracy, the left handed pass is still the ideal, so the ball has to be brought all the way back to the left side and then passed.  This wastes precious time.  Very often, I see players – who are now under a lot of pressure – using the hand of the side to which the dummy was made (the right hand in our example).  Even if that happens to be the player’s strongest hand, it’s an odd angle to make a pass and sometimes has the tendency to drift forward.  At the very least, it again means that the ball carrier is no longer a threat as he’s nearly turned his back to the defence.  If a dummy switch is going to be executed well, the ball carrier must take a sharp angle, aiming for the inside shoulder of the next defender outside him (generally speaking).  It’s up to the decoy runner, therefore, to be loud and look as though he’s actually getting a pass.  I feel there’s no need for the fake pass if the decoy is the one doing the ‘selling’.

With that all said, I’m not totally against switches, because defences will drift at some point.  Not only are they susceptible to cut-backs against the soft shoulder, but there are also times at which the next defender inside them haven’t pushed across as quickly, and have left a massive hole between them.  (This seems to happen most when a back pushes too quickly and a forward can’t keep up – and why backs should always look at tight five forwards in the back line as a potential player to pick on!).  I find switches especially useful in two scenarios where the one or both attacking players can take advantage of space and defenders’ body positioning.  They are:

  1.  When a ball carrier, with a team mate outside her, has tried to make an outside break and is getting close to the touchline.  The player outside her switches back in to keep the ball in-field, looking to get on the inside of a defender who’s pushing across too hard.  This is highly likely if the ball has moved wide quickly as defenders tend to over-pursue those attacks by running sideways across the field.  The receiving player might now find herself in daylight.  Defenders will still be pushing across, however, and so I’d like to see support players get on either side of her as options for another pass.
  2. In broken play, after:  1. Several phases, 2. With quickly recycled ball, and 3. Away from the last tackle contest and the mass of defenders.  Not much different than the scenario above, but where that can happen when the ball is moved wide quickly from a scrum or lineout, this one doesn’t necessarily need as much room to work.  The three conditions provide the attacking team with that ideal opportunity when the defenders are jumbled (esp. when slower forwards get mixed in with backs), when they are disorganised, and where there is space to attack.  Space can often be limited, so the focus isn’t so much about beating the soft shoulder as it is catching a defender off-guard who’s either pushed across too hard or who hasn’t pushed across enough.

[diagram]

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I love learning about how other coaches manage their teams.  This is the second in what I intend to be a series of posts about what some exemplary coaches are doing across the globe, and what lessons we can take from them as amateur coaches.

Imagine yourself a professional level coach.  Now imagine yourself with no stars, no big names, and not even any veterans of pedigree.  Where do you think you’d be in the league standings?  How would you frame your season, having just been promoted two years ago, and what game plan would you use to counter teams richer in recognisable talent than yours?  Read anything about English Aviva Premiership side Exeter and their coach Rob Baxter and you’ll get a sense how just such a team not only survives the usual relegation merry-go-round, but with just one game left in the season is perched upon earning a top-4 playoff spot!

I recently read a wonderful article about them by Paul Ackford for The Telegraph.  It can be read here, and I highly recommend school and amateur club coaches to do so:  CLICK HERE

At our level, we cannot simply go out and buy a new team.  We have to work with what we’ve got, and if the players we have maybe aren’t as good on paper as those on other teams, then a coach has to remain focused on what the team values and goals are.  Exeter appear to be a club that not only has a clear focus of what they can achieve, but are realistically ambitious, play to their strengths, cover their limitations, and as a result have surprised quite a few teams this season.  Below, I will provide some excerpts that stood out to me and comment on what they mean to amateur coaches, proving that if pros can succeed despite not having the money or big name players, so can we.

“We don’t have players who can conjure something out of nothing. Because of that they have to work hard, and to do that they have to be fit and they have to be strong. They have to be able to deal with 80 minutes of flat-out rugby so we have to be hard on them in terms of conditioning and setting standards and the things that really matter.  So, in that sense, yes, I am a hard taskmaster. But if we lose, do I blame them? Never, provided we’ve given it a genuine go.”

I read elsewhere that Baxter’s is much like a boot camp as the players are obsessive about strength and conditioning and that they push each other to be the best at it.  I think that’s fantastic for elite level rugby – and might work for schools / clubs IF everyone is committed or that there will be no shunning of those who do not participate in the S&C stuff with as much passion as the others.  It’s important to remember that ours are NOT pros, and have school, work, and lives outside of rugby.  That said, I think the important part of Baxter’s statement that relates to all of us relates to ‘hard work.’  Hard work, to me, is more than being physically capable to be better than your opponents, but also to have superior mental drive and focus.  I’m sure we all know players who are incredibly fit or ‘built’ better than most, yet who often appear lazy or switched off on the field.  Some believe in their own hype, while others don’t have the passion to apply themselves consistently from kick-off to final whistle.  Conversely, I’m sure we all know others whose brains we wish we could transplant into those other players’ bodies!  A good coach will rein in these players and help them over-come the mental hurdles or foster positive traits in others by using the strong ones as examples for them to follow.

The second part is how to ensure you can get the best – and more – out of your players.  I think for school and club players, being a ‘hard taskmaster’ has to be realistically applied as you don’t want to alienate players for whom the sport isn’t a job.  Baxter refers to ‘setting standards’ and that’s just the key basic ingredient for promoting a positive and driven attitude within the team.  Even as a teenage player, I realised how I was best motivated before a game, and it wasn’t by being pushed or yelled at, or even by joining in the rah-rah generated by some players just before kick-off.  Instead, our coaches let us discover this on our own and I think managed each of us as individuals.  The coaches unified us, though, by reminding us that we were a team and had to work together on the field – and work hard at that.  I’ve been adamant in recent years that it’s the team that works the hardest – especially off the ball – that will have the best chance of realising success.  Exeter have proven it this season, earning 12 wins and among the highest number of losing bonus points.  They’ve proved that they’re willing to grind out victories despite having no stars and that if they’re going down to a team blessed with ‘stars,’ they won’t go without a fight.  That’s the message I take from their season and Baxter’s leadership.  Whether physically or mentally (and more so the latter, for me), your entire team has to be focused on a common goal(s) and must put in the work required to realise those goals with maximum effort and commitment.

Baxter expands on creating a unified focus and positive culture by addressing team chemistry:

“I like my players,” Baxter said at one point in the conversation, a sentiment I’d never heard a coach of any kind articulate before. What would make you not like them was the obvious response?

“If they lost the understanding of what it is to be a good member of a team … I like to see the guys walk in with a smile on their face and start talking about what they did over the weekend.

I like to see that they’re interested in being together and that they will go out onto the rugby pitch and start kicking a football around and having a laugh.”

How, then, would he set about integrating the mavericks? “Maybe you don’t bring them in. You have to make some tough choices. If I met someone who I felt wouldn’t fit in, no matter how good a player he was, I’d go off him pretty quickly.”

For me, this is probably true for any successful team – and I mean ‘successful’ in relation to how well a team should realistically perform, given the talent available.  It only takes one dissenting voice to ruin that chemistry.  Successful teams need a collective focus to implement a game plan and the frame of mind to be there for your team mate physically and verbally.  Rugby is a sport that requires support and unanimity because of the amount of players on the pitch and the non-stop nature of the game.  Thinking back to some of the unsuccessful teams I’ve worked with, the lack of chemistry between players was the common factor.  In retrospect, I and the other coaches should have done more to put out the fires of dissent, bring those players on our side, or have the courage to cut them loose (either from the team, or at least from a starting position, with a clear explanation as to why, and giving them a chance to reform).  I can think of one case when we did and that person elected to leave, and things got better from that point.  It’s regretful to get to that point, but even when it’s not about winning (not like it ever is with me!), but about everyone else enjoying themselves, we all have to take a hard look at our prime reason for playing sport.

The two following statements exemplify what building a positive team culture is all about:

“We talk a lot about enjoying what we do, enjoying the big games and the big moments and how that brings the best out of us.”

As I often say, if we’re not enjoying ourselves, then what are we doing here?  At the simplest level – and, really, at the forefront of our motivation – we participate in sport because we like it.  As I’ve discussed in other posts, winning / losing is largely out of your control.  Setting yourselves realistic and achievable – yet challenging – goals is how any team in any sport should measure success.  Realising these goals – not to mention being outside, getting exercise and with good mates – contributes to enjoying one’s rugby.  Good coaches need to help the team establish and remain focused on these goals, and constantly look to enforce or even re-adjust as appropriate.

It would appear that Baxter and co. do this a lot, as they are always willing to go back to the drawing board.  After a loss where the team felt they hadn’t put forth their best effort:

“We sat down as a group … and said that we would go after games. We made the switch to becoming more ambitious, seeing what we could achieve rather than worrying that we could get relegated and that this could get taken away from us.”

Motivation can be largely internal for each individual, but it’s up to the coach to foster and support the techniques players use to keep themselves motivated and alert for matches and grounded after setbacks occur.  Positivity is key; and it’s especially necessary when dealing with losses, setbacks or failure to perform to the level one might wish.  With so many close losses, I would assume Exeter treats those almost as they would wins.  The league points one can achieve even in a loss – for losing by 7 or less, or for scoring 4 or more tries – are becoming common even in our amateur leagues and are great targets to set if history with a certain team has everyone thinking a loss is on the cards.  Many times, heaping such pressure on the ‘better’ team can cause them to lose focus and have led to many an upset.  I haven’t followed closely Exeter’s matches this season, but I’m willing to bet that many of their wins have come simply because of that.  Pressure on teams that took them lightly.  A unified desire to work harder in attack and especially in defence.  A positive and ambitious outlook on games, keeping grounded within one’s potential to succeed.

Sounds like great lessons for any team!

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I’m currently reading The Red Devils, by G.G. Norton, an official history of the British Airborne forces.  Having never served, I don’t know if the military equates to sports, though many things I’ve read about training suggests sometimes it does.  Either way, I read a great quote in this book which immediately made me think of how the message, given to soldiers on the eve of battle, also applies to rugby players heading into a game.

The quote is from Brigadier S.J.L. Hill, commander of the 3rd Parachute Brigade of the 6th Airborne Division (which included the 1st Can Paras for fellow history nerds) on the eve of D-Day, the early morning of which his men were to drop behind enemy lines and seize key objectives.  On a simple level, these men trained long and hard knowing full well that such operations rarely, if ever, go to plan.  Brig. Hill told his men:

“Gentlemen, in spite of your excellent training and orders, do not be daunted if chaos reigns.  It undoubtedly will.”

By reading how they prepared for their assualt and how relatively successful they were at achieving their objectives, it appears that this quote was merely the final reminder of what was a long and focused preparatory period.

Some of the applicable lessons that I’ve learned from such accounts all point toward planning for chaos.  Rugby players, like these airborne troops, need to be trained in realistic environments which include all the subtle nuances that are part of a real game.  The Airborne made mock-ups of their targets in England and practiced on them to the point that each soldier could rhyme off his job and draw a diagram of his objective.  I think these troops were also the fore runners of military doctrine whereby one guy was likely to know the job of at least one other guy, and those in leadership positions could step up and do the job of the man above him in a pinch.  Reading about their efforts made me think of the elite teams I’ve worked with.  Did they all know what their role is on the field?  Did they know the ins and outs of how attack and defence works so that they can be as successful as they can be?  Could certain players step up and do the job of others, not just in covering injuries, but who takes over for the scrum half / fly half when they’re at the bottom of the ruck?  Players tend to clue in and do so eventually, but the more quickly and efficiently this is done the better.  It’s one of the reasons why I love the Kiwi (and Rugby League) concept of having two decision makers in the midfield, their 10 and 12 being called the 1st 5/8 and the 2nd 5/8 respectively.

So how do we plan for chaos?  Like the Airborne soldier, creating a game-oriented environment is key to giving them a sense of what can and could happen without the consequences of having to learn such knowledge on the day – whether it be D-Day, or Game Day for our players.  One can’t simply ‘play rugby’ at training, though, and expect to see results.  Brig. Hill also referred to their ‘orders.’  From more modern sources I often hear soldiers talk about ‘falling back on their training.’  When the proverbial stuff hits the fan and all hell breaks loose, they are assured that they – and equally, if not more importantly for confidence building, the soldiers next to them – know their job inside and out.  When things are not going to plan, whether it be an attack strategy or a move or that the defence is better than expected, what can your players fall back on to allow them to re-focus and re-start the attack?

Training, for me, builds from the ‘tool box’ to the ‘scenario’ to the game itself – and all within one training session.  We spend a little time each practice working on something that’s basic, from how to move one’s body to avoid contact to drilling in perfect passing / tackling.  All of these building blocks allow us to not worry about the little things and divert our attention to the big issues when the game is on.  I then give them an opportunity to work with those techniques in a closed environment with few players to take away most of the variables that could cause confusion.  Sadly, this is where many coaches stop, and it’s plain to see when as the coach is the one ranting “We do this every practice!” when their team looks like rookies when faced with pressure.  I’m a firm believer that players – in that same session – need to be then thrown into a game-like scenario where more of those ‘confusing’ variables can be added (more defenders, limited space, etc.), building a microcosm of the game itself.  Finally, they should be given at least 15-20 minutes to play rugby to apply all of those lessons learned in a real game.  You can structure it to suit certain purposes, but should let them use that time to figure things out for themselves.

In fact, my model has intensity rising from the beginning to end, and error correction decreasing.  So in the technical area, there’s not too much intensity, but a lot of error correction.  In the game, there’s very little correction and game-like intensity.  In between, there should be a good balance – moving toward full intensity, but not so as to forget to do the fundamentals correctly and default to brutality; enough error correction to remind them of just one or two key concepts.  So forget that the pass wasn’t perfect in the attacking scenario – that will come – continue to remind them that depth gives them time and space to deal with such passes, or even more time to read the defence and act upon a plan.

The long and short of it is, that when faced with the chaotic situation that is a rugby game, it’s so much easier to deal with it when you’ve got a clear frame of mind about what your role is, an assortment of tools and lessons to fall back upon when the pressure is on, and, ideally, the ability to take initiative when your heralded leader is trapped at the bottom of a ruck.

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I’m not the biggest fan of sevens, but it can be a great venue to grow the game in smaller areas / schools and can serve to create a microcosm of the (much superior 😉 ) XVs game for skill and vision development purposes.  As some schools in these parts have opted for sevens tournaments this season, and to any of you who are heading into your sevens seasons, here’s how I addressed tactics with the successful school boys team I coached last year.

Our simple rule in attack was “attack the easy space”, which was broken down into two or three ‘tactics’ if you will:

1. Two passes away from the ‘muck’.  I conceptualised this by getting them to think about simple maths.  One guy makes a tackle, one guy probably goes to ruck and two more will probably get into ‘post’ positions around it – 4 guys in about 15 or so metres of width.  That leaves three guys left to cover the other 40+!  There’s going to be “easy space” elsewhere.

The “easy space” is space in front of the ball-carrier, giving the him more time to think and act; space in between defenders, the bigger gaps the better; and the space behind, angling runs behind defenders ‘fixed’ by team mates.

2. Go with the flow when we have quick ball and momentum.  If we are beating them to the break down, they won’t have time to get set – if they’re even there at all!  Eventually, we’ll draw them into a narrow area and we’ll go back to Plan A.

3. Stay on your feet.  We talked about how being tackled was a ‘fail’ (kids love that word!) to the principles of going forward, maintaining possesion (not guaranteed in contact), and maintaining pressure (giving the defence chance to contest and re-organise).  So we worked on timing of runs and both timing and quality of passes, support lines and communication to get the ball to the “easy space” and of what the support options are, all in an effort to avoid getting tackled.

4. … not really a ‘tactic’ but possession is everything in sevens.  Keeping it when attacking.  Winning it when defending.  And getting it back after a try has been scored.

In this photo, the French player has space in front, a supporting player on both sides and two Canadian defenders turned sideways – he should have plenty of options!

Technically, I also preached that the early, deep pass was the preferred one to start our “two passes” tactic to get the ball to the quick runners in a bit of ‘easy space’.  I demonstrated how attacking close to the line against an organised defence is like bashing into a wall.  Not ideal for any team when you’ve only got seven and at least three get involved in a tackle contest, let alone smaller players!  Instead, I showed them how typical defences react to seeing a quick runner with the ball 10-15m away from them… some panic and rush out of the line, or the line comes up slower to stay together, or it otherwise loses its shape and provides opportunities.  (Conversely, we called our defence THE BLUE WALL – saying that it’s what the colour of our jerseys would look like to the opposition … they wanted to call it THE BLUE TSUNAMI, but someone reminded the group that Japan had just experienced a tragic one and it wouldn’t be in good taste.  I was impressed with that, coming from a Yr. 7 boy, and with the group who never mentioned it again!)

Positionally, my other recommendation is NOT to have your most creative player in the traditional ‘first receiver’ role – if you agree with the ‘two passes’ tactic.  We’d have one of the ‘speed’ players as the ‘first receiver’ who’s immediately play the ball to the decision maker, who had another speed player outside him.  We also conceptualised this as the ‘diamond’ of our attack strategy, with the decision maker trying to always get the ball in a central position, with support to his left and right, and the player who started the play following in behind (i.e. the acting half / original passer from the break down or set-piece).

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[Diagrams and further discussion to follow… ]

Flat Pass

A pass best made in front of the runner as he/she is about to meet the defensive line.  It is best employed when the receiver is running powerfully toward space / a gap in the line.  Especially useful in the hands of player with great power.

… advantages:

  • Receiver closer to gain line
  • Puts receiver into a gap (if proper running line is chosen)
  • Defenders have little time to react to it

… disadvantages:

  • Defenders closer to passer and receiver
  • Delay and runner runs past or has to reach back / slow down to receive
  • More difficult pass to receive
  • Long, flat passes run the risk of interception
  • Limited chances to pass on if contact occurs, at best, an offload from contact if support is close at hand

Deep Pass

A pass best made in front of a receiver who is a reasonable distance back from the defensive line.  It is best used early from the passer to maintain the gap between receiver and defender(s), to provide the receiver with more space and time to scan / create opportunities.  Especially useful in the hands of a player with great quickness.

… advantages:

  • Gives receiver more time to make a decision
  • Gives receiver more room to use evasive footwork
  • Usually easier to receive
  • Can cause individual defender to ‘panic rush’ out of line, creating opportunities for other attacking players to run off the receiver

… disadvantages:

  • Delayed / slow / arcing pass provides more time for defenders to close down space, and catch receiver well behind gain line and possibly support
  • Delivered to receiver not ready / not quicker or more powerful than defender can also result in a loss in territory or possession
  • Receiver must be someone who can effectively use the space that’s available

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This is the first of what will be several posts aimed at the players I’m currently coaching, reminding them of the objectives we worked on at the preceding training session.  I’m hoping to both reinforce learning and provide remedial knowledge to those who had to miss the session.  We’ll be repeating the lessons learned, those will miss will hopefully be familiar with the terms and concepts … if they do their home work!

We haven’t done any proper tackling yet, but have looked at some of the technical elements which are involved in making a proper tackle.  We also talked about the aim of the tackle and defence – to win the ball back – so looked at how to get back to our feet quickly and to get hands on ball legally and safely.  Finally, we looked at defensive shape in small groups and then as a team.  I’ve outlined some basic elements of that below, but will go into greater detail when we talk about rucking.

Preparing for Contact

  • Foot in the ‘hula hoop’ – getting one foot close enough to enter the hypothetical hula hoop at the feet of the ball carrier will get you close enough to make a proper tackle
  • Bending at the knees and dropping one’s butt provides stability and leverage when engaging in contact
  • Engaging with a shoulder stops the ball carrier’s forward momentum and can fold them in half if done in the right spot
  • Wrapping tightly and dominating one’s opponent should see you complete a take down quickly and end up on top, in a better position to steal the ball

Stealing the Ball After Contact(aka ‘poaching’ or ‘jackaling’)

  • Get to your feet as quickly as you can, even pushing off on the tackled player to do so
  • There’s no need to stand up fully erect, as squatting over the ball saves time and ensures you’re strong (low, balanced, shoulders above hips)
  • You must be on your feet and be able to support your own body weight to play the ball, you must also release the tackled player – a brief clap lets the ref know (see video below)
  • Remember the tackler can play the ball from any direction so long as a ruck has not yet formed ; ‘Tackle Assist’ or ‘2nd player in’ must enter through the gate, an area as wide and deep as the players on the ground

Defending, 1o1

  • FOR INDIVIDUALS…
  • Tackles are more easily made when the ball carrier is in front of you
  • Close down the distance between quickly to reduce the ball carrier’s space, time, and options
  • … but shorten strides, adopt a lower, more dynamic stance, and be on the balls of your feet closer to contact so you can adjust to the ball carrier’s attempts to evade you
  • NEVER wait for them to come to you, and NEVER get caught flat footed – both situations give the ball carrier the advantage
  • FOR GROUPS…
  • The group of players in front of the ball must remain flat so as not to provide obvious holes – which can be created by individuals rushing up too soon or lagging behind the rest.
  • Communication early allows everyone to better understand their roles and responsibilities – we will use:
  • “My Tackle” – taking responsibility, letting others know so they can make appropriate decisions
  • “My Steal” – someone immediately beside the declared tackler, indicating support and that he/she will either help complete the tackle or attempt to steal the ball or get stuck into an ensuing ruck / maul
  • Players beside them need to “Squeeze” in to plug holes and mirror the potential ball carriers on BOTH sides of the player about to be tackled.  (We learned that people tend to ‘pinch’ in, providing the attacking team with a hole to exploit, when no one took responsibility by yelling ‘my tackle’!)

Next week we’ll talk more about organisation at the tackle contest (i.e. ruck / maul, though we’ve already covered some of this).  If you want to read more about what we worked on in Tuesday’s session, check out my post here on here:  https://conversationalrugby.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/communication-in-defence/

and on ‘attacking’ on defence and maintaining shape here:  https://conversationalrugby.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/communication-in-defence/

Thursday will be dedicated to attack.

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