Last Updated on Saturday, 12 February 2011 14:28
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? Several roles are defined:
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:
Key Factors - Rucks
- Stand in the tackle or
- Drive forward as far as possible
- Fall at right angles to the touch-line back on to the opponents
- Place the ball for team-mates
- Move away
Key Factors - Mauls
- Stand "in the tackle"
- Outside shoulder forward
- In a crouch feet shoulder width apart
- Control the tackler
- Present the ball
- Bind on the support
Ideally the Ball Retainer should not go to ground in the tackle because it is very difficult to recover ball that is on the ground. If this is unavoidable the player shall drive forward as long as he has forward momentum before falling to the ground. Do not get isolated ! By driving forward the player's teammates can more easily move forward and support.
As the player goes to ground place the ball for teammates. The Laws allow you to do this immediately after the tackle. The placement of the ball varies. Some favor putting it close to the body. Here it is very difficult for the opposition to regain. By placing it further away it is available to teammates but is also available to opponents.
If the ball retainer is able to stand in the tackle the stance should be stable with feet shoulder width apart sinking at the hips and bending at the knees.
Your outside shoulder should be forward so that the support players can move to the position of the ball. Face the direction you got the ball from, the player who passed it is most likely the first on to give you support.
By holding the ball on the chest the player allows the next player to drive in above the ball. This enables the ball to be recovered by driving down on it and claiming it with the hands.
This are the playerswho are following the ball after the previous phase: mostly on the inside of the ball.
Key Factors - Rucks
- Position yourself over the tackle
- Either pick up the ball or bind with teammates to form a "front row" over the ball
- Pass to a support runner
As the link player you are the first player to support the ball retainer. If there is time the player should pick up the ball so that it can be moved further forward. This will maintain the momentum of play.
However, there may not be time to pick up the ball. Under these circumstances the player should bind with team-mates and drive through and past the ball so that it is delivered to the scrum half or any other player to pick up and continue the movement.
It is the speed with which the ball is delivered from the ruck that gives the attacking team an advantage. If it is delivered slowly the defense has time to regroup. You can better move forward with a drive.
Amongst the options are to use a close-in forward as a runner to take the ball forward. When this is done the support must be able to be at the ball very quickly.
But most of all: take a decision! I hate it when players "just" position themselves over the ball looking aggressive. It tells me their coach did not make the option clear or the players are too afraid to make a decision.
- Drive and bind onto the ball carrier
- Drive in with the opposite shoulder to the ball carrier to protect the ball
- Either drive on to form a ruck or stand and turn to form a maul
- Transfer the ball from the line of contact
When the link player moves to support the ball retainer he must be prepared to help the ball retainer retaining possession. Once the two players are bound as a unit and the ball transferred to the link player this player must decide whether to form a ruck or a maul.
If a ruck is to be formed the link player should drive forward bound to the ball retainer. As support arrives the link player "slides" down the ball retainer, falls back on to the opposition and places the ball so it can be cleared.
If a maul is to be formed the link player should turn immediately and take up a low body position. By turning immediately the player will not have to adjust positioning once teammates arrive and bind to form the maul.
- Bind on each side of the link player to protect the ball and to provide a stable platform for a forward drive
- Drive through and past the line of the ball
- Maintain the drive until the ball has been cleared
The blocks perform the same role at rucks and mauls. This role is to "seal-off' possession by driving into a position one on the left the other on the right of the position of the ball. They should be bound and drive beyond the line of the ball to protect it.
The link player should be in a low body position to allow the two blocks to bind and drive past the link player driving the opposition back from the ball.
Possession is secured, we are moving forward, defenders are committed. What next ? open up again !
- Maintain forward momentum
- Organize the transfer of the ball and the attacking options
- Deliver the ball
When playing the next phase play there is a need for players to communicate with each other. Now, some player, mostly the Scrum Half (or Half back), must take responsibility to open to the player in the "Fly half" (or First 5/8) role.
Remember space is created at second phase play to enable the attack to continue. The organization of a forward attack requires a decision to go forward, to the left or to the right. This decision has to be made after all the other things described above have been done.
Look at the Scrum half as a functional role more than a player: the Scrum half is in the best position to decide when the ball should be delivered.
With these pages I hope to identify the main tasks 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: