In open play the functional roles of the rugby players are more situational rather then basedon the position on set-pieces. What is required from the players depends on the situation. This is where a rugby team with players with both a good collective awareness of space and opportunities and a high general skill level can express themselves. Perhaps a reason why counter attacking French rugby sides are so successful?

The French have been working at this for some time now. Pierre Villepreux laid the foundation of what is called Family Play. Jean Bidal took this a step further and detailed the responsibilities and tasks further. The basic idea is that when you know your position on the field relative to the ball, then you know in which family you belong and then it is easy to take the responsibilities and tasks of that family. The Families are defined as:

The most important thing is to communicate and coach the player in front of you. Tell him what you expect from him. Four different roles (or families) are described:

1.    Functional Role - Close Support

Key is to attack the space, move from playing in front of the defense to playing in the defense. Mismatch. Or off-load in the tackle. PLayers near the ball carrier should react to his actions and anticipate his next move.

If there is no inmediate penetration possible that the Close Support players should work on retaining the ball. Either in Rucks or Mauls

Ideally the Ball Carrier should not go to ground in the tackle because it is very difficult to recover ball that is on the ground quickly, the outcome is you play in front of the defense again.

2.    Functional Role - Early Support

This are the players who can carry on the attack if the Close Support players recycle it. This is mostly on the outside of the ball.

3.    Functional Roles - Late Support

These are the players who were involved in the previous phase or the forwards in a restart. They do not have to follow the ball but can form an attacking line on the inside of the Close Support players.

4.    Functional Role - Deep Support

These are the Reserves. The are behind the CLose Support Family and can help them to secure the ball or go through the gap too! If the ball is recycled by the Close Support players they can go and support the Early Support Family.

General issues

With these pages I hope to identify the general tasks in attack that come along with a position. 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 a elementary step to building a successful team!

More on the functional role idea: