Note: this page is based on IRB coaching material, my own experiences and feedback from other coaches.
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 Wing
I know lots of coaches start players who are new to the game on the wing: they can do not much harm and "everybody can play on the wing". How wrong! I think playing on the wing is very difficult task. Better start "newbies" on the flanker: more players around and always in the midst of things.
Every rugby player should develop his speed, for the wing extra focus should be on the longer sprints and changing direction at speed, agility. Look at my SAQ pages to improve your running technique.
Left or Right side?
Very few can play competently on both left and right. There are specific requirements, which a wing must have when deciding left (#11) or right (#14). This relates to kicking and being able to step off the left foot to move back inside coming from the right and v.v.
Two types of kicks:
- to keep play 'alive', maintain the opportunity to score and to regain possession
- to kick parallel to the side-line and chip-kick into space.
Another reason is that the left side wing gets more ball but in a tighter situation. This is why the left side wing in a rugby team is stronger and more powerfull while the right side wing is the speedster. Reasons for the left getting more ball is the way the ball is played from the scrum and (I think) most players are right handed a are better passers to the left....
Open play: offence
Speed and the ability to 'finish' are important. Running the right lines is critical but the methods of beating a man can vary from player to player. The traditional move: the body swerving in towards the defender to slow him down then accelerating on the outside.
Always try to receive the ball at full pace, accelerate before you receive the ball.
Get involved: do not wait until the ball reaches you, look for work !
The side step
This is the weapon of wingers. Change direction to get on the inside shoulder of your opponent. Then the use of strength to burst tackles or stand in the tackle and off load to support.
Larger players (Lomu) use their size and strength to break the line and hold the ball up to create opportunities for others. If you are more the light weight type a technique is more "fend-and-turn". This is handing off the defender and turn towards your support player to off load.
Communication with the full-back and other wing is important. You form the last line of defence. If you are on the open side you are more aligned with the centers. On the blind side defence you are deeper.
On a more general perspective: wingers are the eyes in defense: they have a good overview of what the strike patterns of the opposition are. In the dead moments the wingers should prvide their teammates with what they are seeing, improving the overall defensive performance. A big responsibility!
Concentration both on attack and defence. Looking at the body language and positional play of the opposition to detect 'the next move/point of attack' Speed (straight line and acceleration), Good hands, Kick off either foot, vision to counter-attack, a good finisher', read defensive situations and TACKLE.
- Ability to beat a man one on one
- Kick with either foot
- Comfortable with all types of pass
- Comfortable playing in any part of the pitch
My favorite wing of the RWC 2011
My two wingers are Amorosino of Argintina and James O'Conner of Australia. James featured big on the Ozzie campervans during the RWC too!
More on the functional role idea: