Note: this page is based on IRB coaching material, 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 on the Back Row players

The Back Row Players are also called Loose Forwards or Third Row Players. The three positions have special requirements, but also some in common like speed, mobility, ball skills, accuracy, aggression on attack and defence and they must blend together as a 'unit'. The backrow is the oil in the team, making everything work. Why are teams not "working", they miss the Loose Forwards - look at successful teams and their Loosies.....

At least one of the three must have 'height' for line out possession at the rear.

Every rugby player should develop his speed, for the back rowextra focus should be on the quick burst through the gap: lateral movement, explosive steps, agility. Bt also hit the defensive line, trying to break through tackles, looking for the offload. Look at my SAQ pages to improve your running technique.


Back row players are line-out jumpers too. Develop your ability to catch with either left or right hand or both. Get organised with codes, different moves and practise. Your job is to secure the throw and give the team and attacking opportunity.


Again a whole list of things:

  • Bind correctly, discuss this with your prop.
  • Channel the ball
  • Watch the ball when it moves through the scrum
  • Protect the Scrum Half
  • Explode of the scrum when the ball is out.

Work on the back row moves, defend the blind side.

I have a special page set up for the scrum.

Open play: offence

Because he will arrive later at breakdowns from scrums his decision what to do is very important. His action makes or breaks the continuation of the attack. He needs the ability to 'read the game' in order to anticipate what is going to happen next and be at the right place at the right time. Work with the other loosies and knowing what the backs are doing to get the right lines to get to the breakdown.

Comfortable with the ball in hand when first in support of the ball carrier especially blind side attacks.

On occasions, the experience of playing in the second row helps in appreciating the tight loose requirements of the position.


An ability to stop short/blind side attacks with deadly accurate and intimidating tackling. Speed is important for this role but accuracy in lines of running and physical presence in defence is essential.

Key issues

  • Aggression, go forward and a strong "will to succeed".

My favorite blind side of the RWC 2011

Too many options really, the French Thierry Dusatoir is my current favourite.

General issues

More on the functional role idea: