Note: this page started with IRB coaching material, added my own experiences and feedback from other coaches.

In General

When you want to create a high performance rugby team you need to look at the team assets and individual strengths of players. Piecing together the optimum position for the players is one of the great teambuilding activities of the coach and his players.

I think a lot of rugby coaches underestimate the motivational power that will develop when you start working with the players and discussing where their competence's will benefit the team the most.

With these rugby players specific pages I hope to identify the main tasks that come along with the position. A great teambuilding activity would be to let the team match their individual skills with the positions.

Definition is one, to agree with these tasks is important, performing the tasks is the third thing. Doing all three with all the players in the team is an elementary step to a successful team !

Good luck in developing your team spirit!

General issues

A good scrum now brings an enormous amount of force to bear on the opposition front row. Most of this is channeled onto the hooker to make hooking the ball as difficult as possible. A hooker is in the middle of things, a very physical player who likes the challenge of the front row battle.

The main requirement of a hooker now is that he is physically strong enough to take the strain of scrumming. Hooking technique, although still important, is second now to the accuracy and consistent throwing of the ball into the lineout.

Key issues are:

  • The ability to use correct body position
  • The ability to take the correct lines of running and show speed at breakdowns.
  • The ability to secure of regain possession at second phase of play.
  • MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, once you have arrived at a phase of play.

Every rugby player should develop his speed, for the hooker extra focus should be on the quick burst cutting through the defensive line: lateral movement, explosive steps, breaking tackles. Look at my SAQ pages to improve your running technique.


Personally I expect the scrum half or another player to throw in the ball in the future, the hooker is too tired to have an accurate throw. A bit like the French used to do in the nineties.

Achieving a precise throw in requires hours of practice to master the different types of throws such as the lob or the flat throw, and adjust them to the different types of jumps -forward or back.

  • throw accurately into the lineout. Jumpers have many different throws. A bad throw can mean the winning of losing of a game. Again timing is imperative.
  • know the throw-in requirement of the jumpers and perfect them
  • participate actively in the lineout
  • stand in a position that enables maximum protection for the half-back from deflected ball
  • mark the opposition hooker closely
  • stand in a position that gives you an unimpeded line to the oppositions deflected ball
  • take advantage of the general play situation that often occurs when the ball is deflected by the opposition
  • pounce on the loose ball and or hassle the opposition half-back
  • because hookers are not bound into the line-out, they can enter general play very quickly


  • Organise your strike with the throw-in and channeling of the ball. Practise this with your scrum-half against the posts.
  • Make your first priority winning the ball on the loose head. Only attempt the tight head, when it is of the greatest tactical value and catch the opposition by surprise.
  • Exert tactical and physical pressure on the opposing hooker at all times.

I have a special page set up for the scrum.

Open play: offence

From the scrums, options are the same as for the other members o the front row. When approaching second phase play, decide whether you are joining a phase of play and consider your options, THINK! It is just as bad to make no decision than a wrong one - be responsible.
Be prepared to be an attacking runner and therefore join the attack as often as possible. Look for work.

  • Nowadays being mobile is important - in effect another back row player - and being comfortable with the ball in hand.
  • He must be a strong scrummager, strong runner and competitive. One of the most vital positions in the team having to make important decisions at scrum and line out time.
  • This player has to be an all-rounder in open play and is an excellent passer off both hands.
  • Read the opposition.
  • Support the ball carrier on two sides (anywhere on the field).
  • Be at the on-even or even second phase play, divide the rolls op play.
  • Continue play in open area.
  • Look for the room between the opposition, not for the opposition.

Rucks: own ball - select one of the options:

  • bind and drive past the ball
  • bind on the side to protect delivery of the ball, listen to your scrum-half
  • the optional pick-and-go ball

Mauls: own ball - options are:

  • prevent mauling by having mini rucks
  • bind on the side to protect delivery of the ball
  • act as the pivot for a rolling maul, after initially contributing to the forward drive
  • place the pivot on the spot where the is exploitation possible on the oppositions behalf


A good defender around the fringes and in cover, and a nimble elusive runner who can sniff a gap and 'snipe' from both set and broken play. Espaecially in the line outs your position at the time of throw is important: choose the right angle to attack the opposing scrum-half or to collect poorly handled ball.

  • Develop the ability to make good decisions. Talk with others about your options.
  • Ability to contain pressure at the front of the lineout.
  • Make offensive hits.
  • Always compete always for the ball.
  • Put pressure on the opposition in every position of play.

Rucks: opposition ball, do one of the following:

  • provide ball retainment
  • bind with fellow player to stop the continuous play of the opposition
  • pack on the side of the ruck and take up the role of a flanker

Mauls: opposition ball - select from these options:

  • drive forward to slow down or stop their continuous play
  • upset their delivery of the ball
  • stop the rotation of the maul by driving onto the legs on the side towards which the maul is rolling, again make it happen to stop a maul!
  • At all times be aware that the backs could cut back against the initial flow of play. Be prepared to tackle the initial ball carrier.

My favorite Hooker of RWC2011

Keven Mealamu of NZ All Blacks, solid throw, good shape in the scrum, great individual skills in the close contact stuff. 

General issues

More on the functional role idea: