Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

What do you do in the rugby opposition’s 22m when they have the lineout throw? by David Clarke

The reason I ask is that I recently found this clip, highlighting a great tactic the Italian national rugby team (and others) sometimes use. I’ve now posted it at The Huddle, the online forum for rugby coaches.

Dan also wrote about the tactic in last year’s Rugby Coach, his monthly magazine about rugby coaching. To help me better illustrate what the Italian’s are doing, he’s agreed to let me reproduce it here and in this week’s Better Rugby Coaching.

Instead of competing for the lineout ball in the air, instead of driving into the jumper when they reach the ground, instead of pulling the jumper to the ground before a maul forms… the Italians do nothing!

As expected the opposition catch the ball and, as they’ve practised frequently, quickly form a “cluster” of players around the jumper. A team mate rips the ball from the jumper and moves it to the back of the “cluster”, where, under usual circumstances, it would be safest.

Crucially, however, because the Italians aren’t engaging there’s no maul. This means their hooker can whip around behind the opposition “cluster” and tackle the ball carrier at the back. Since there’s no maul, there’s no offside – just confused opponents.

If you’re planning to coach the tactic or try it out at your next rugby match make sure you:

Tell the referee about your plans before the game. It will look unusual and any referee who is caught unawares may not see it in the correct light and penalise you.

Ensure your players make no effort whatsoever to compete for the ball at the lineout. Even better they should step away from the opposition. This avoids any chance of contact.

Consider whereabouts on the pitch you’ll use the tactic. It’s generally best performed in their 22m area. You will lose ground, but should cause enough confusion to give you an advantage.

Spread your defenders in the lineout, so any efforts by the opposition to perform a peel (where the jumper pops the ball to a runner) can be thwarted.

Let me know how you get on!

Toby Curthoys, Better Rugby Coaching Publisher


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