Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Day 27 of August pre season training tips: key laws by David Clarke
August 29, 2010, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs | Tags: , , ,

August 27

Key laws

Most people know what a forward is, but dig down and you will find that many areas of detail of the game are lost in myth and mystery.

You need to be clear on all the laws before the season starts, so here is a little test for you…answers soon!

Do you know the following laws:
1. What is the correct binding for a loosehead prop on their opposition tighthead?
2. When can a jumper be lifted in the lineout?
3. What is a ruck?
4. What does the tackler have to do after the tackle?
5. If a defender is involved in a tackle, can they hold onto the ball in the tackle, even if they are on their feet?
6. When is a maul formed?
7. What can a player in front of his kicker do?
8. Can a player drag an opposition player into a ruck?
9. When is the ball out of the ruck?

Better Rugby Coaching


Do we need to understand the ruck? by David Clarke
January 6, 2010, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby News | Tags: , , , ,

There is a debate amongst the English premiership coaches over the interpretation of the ruck laws. Brendon Ventor, the Saracens coach, has been censored by RFU for his comments on how referees are not controlling the breakdown area.

He has found some support, but not from all parts. Toby Booth, the London Irish coach, says put up and get on with it. Deal with the situation and play rugby.

There are over 30 offences that can happen around the tackle area. With the speed of the game as it is, plus players aiming to play on or over the edge of the law, there is some sympathy for the referee.

However, this does not make it easy to play or coach. Witness a top level coaching session and the ethics of the law seem to be on hold.

At lower levels, everything is perhaps worse. Poorer quality of everything leads to a mess which could envelope the game and remove it from its first priniciples. Can we cope with this, or does the IRB need to revisit the ruck law again?

Tackle laws confirmed by David Clarke
December 1, 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs | Tags: , ,

Just to reminder of the laws that have been confirmed.

An interim meeting of the IRB’s ruling council on Tuesday 1st December 2010 agreed the current application of the rulings relating to Laws 15 (breakdown) and 16 (ruck) would be adopted into law with immediate effect:

– 15.4(c): The tackler who has gone to ground can, when back on their feet, play the ball from any direction

– 15.6(c): The tackler who stays on their feet has to release that player and then only play the ball coming from the direction of his own goalline.

– 16.3(f): Players must not use their feet in a rucking motion with players on the ground.

Do you know what you can do at the maul by David Clarke
August 19, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , , ,

Here are the guidelines set out by the IRB from their website.

An excellent link,
it shows videos of what is happening at the maul.
Here is another video from the IRB to look at as well.

In summary from their PDF:
The maul must be formed so that the opposition can contest the maul at the formation; this includes
the formation of the maul at a lineout and from a maul formed after kick-offs or restart kicks. (Match
Officials were instructed to apply this from May 2009 – a DVD was circulated to all match elite match
officials and Referee Managers.) Mauls from open play should be refereed in the same way as mauls
formed at lineouts or from restart kicks.
A player may have both hands on the ball and be bound into the maul by other players involved in the
If a player takes the ball in a formed maul and detaches whilst the players in the maul continue going
forward, they are obstructing the opposition if that player continues moving forward using the players
in front as a shield.
If the ball carrying team in the maul is moved backwards at or immediately after the formation, Law 17
(d) and (e) should apply :
“(d) When a maul has stopped moving forward for more than five seconds, but the ball is being moved
and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge
within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.
(e) When a maul has stopped moving forward it may start moving forward again providing it does so
within 5 seconds. If the maul stops moving forward a second time and if the ball is being moved and
the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge
within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.”
If the maul is moved backwards, match officials currently do not apply Law 17 (d) at the maul formation. If they did so
it would only allow one more movement forward and it may encourage the non-ball-carrying side to commit to the maul
at its formation.
Match officials also permit mauls to move sideways and do not apply 17 (d) and (e). Strict application may assist.
If the referee says “use it” the ball must be used and restarting the maul is not an option.
The concern about ‘truck and trailer’ is not about the ball being one or two players back from the ball
carrier when the maul is moving forward, as that replicates a scrum. The concern is about the player
‘hanging’ on the back of the maul. Strict application of the definition of a bind may assist in resolving
this issue:
“Binding. Grasping firmly another player’s body between shoulders and the hips with the whole arm in
contact from hand to shoulder”.
If the ball carrier player does not bind in this way, the maul is considered to be over match officials insist the ball is
used. If the player rejoins and binds on the players in front, the team should be penalised for obstruction. This may
encourage players to bind appropriately.
Better Rugby Coaching

Should we pity the rugby referee? by David Clarke
August 11, 2009, 8:30 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , , ,

rugby referee
First, before I even start, we need to remember we are all in this together. Without each constituent part of the game, we would not be able to even venture onto the pitch.

Does that mean that refereees should be free of criticism? Of course not, and I don’t know many who would say otherwise. On the other hand there is a time and place for criticism, just as there is with the players.

I feel a certain amount of pity for referees at the moment. The new season in the Northern Hemisphere is almost upon us and watching the New Zealand club competition, I see plenty of interpretation.

There are new laws in place, and emphasis on others. The referees at all levels are under pressure to get these areas correct AND the normal laws of the game whilst the players and coaches are conspiring to outwit both the opposition and the referee.

In fact some referees will admit that some laws will be refereed hard in the first few months and then things will revert to the old ways.

That is not the only problem. Speaking to some coaches over the weekend, referees at the lower level are not so well informed. So whilst the coach and team might be playing to the current rulings, the poor old (and young) referee is struggling to cope with the old set of laws.

I suppose patience is a particularly useful virtue. It is a tough dish to swallow when you are losing a spicy game to some rotten decisions.

Simple truths still win rugby games by David Clarke

An international delight of rugby this weekend!

I must say the game that caught my imagination was the Super 14 final between South Africa’s Blue Bulls and New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs. I know that the rules are achanging, but once again the pace the game is played at is quite breathtaking. The Bulls blew away the Chiefs in the end 61-17.

Here are my thoughts on the key elements, and beware the Lions, because the Blue Bulls had some key test players.

1. Play with width, but come from depth
You can spread the ball across the field, but the ball carriers must interest the defenders with their pace onto the ball and some straight running, however far away the defence is. Both teams spread it wide, but only one team attacked with speed, the Bulls.
2. You must win your set piece cleanly
The Bulls were masters of disrupting the lineout. This led to the Chiefs throwing risky throws. Lineout defence is therefore crucial. The scrums were more solid for the both sides, but again a significant “charge” was made when the Chiefs needed good ball. Good first phase allows teams to develop patterns of play. Defences will have the upper hand otherwise.
3. Sealing is dead
A sealing play stops at the ball and scrum half finds it more difficult to clear the pass. At Super 14, it is more likely that the player “falls” beyond the ball. They key is: keeping the ball clean and if the ball is sealed, then the attacking side will create quick ball. Teams that coach sealing next year will not progress.
4. You must vary your point of attack from 2nd phase
Both sides passed the ball from the base of the ruck close, wide, off 9, and off 10 to keep the defences guessing. This created defensive gaps around 10 and then around 13. Teams cannot cover the whole pitch.

Simple truths we must continue to remember.

And mauling is back! The Lions and the Royal XV benefitted from the return to mauling. More on that as the week goes on.

Better Rugby Coaching

The most vital coaching area with the lineout ELVs by David Clarke

The most important lineout ELV has changed back to the old law of matching numbers.

The other lineout ELVs, which are here to stay, removed the anomalies from beforehand. The player standing in the traditional defensive hooker position cannot lift, the receiver has to stand two metres from the line until the ball is thrown in and lifting (as if it wasn’t before) is allowed.

So we will have a return to shortened lineouts and all the variations they provided. Some teams at the top end of the game were using them anyway, despite the opposition being able to have any amount of players in the lineout.

The principles of good lifting and throwing remain, but there are lots of opportunities to win the lineout AND to use the rolling maul from the lineout.

And I think it is the last prospect that makes winning the lineout well even more interesting. You cannot maul from poor lineout. You have to win the ball cleanly and so it is good to get into space to make an uncontested catch. Then you have to transfer the ball away from the catcher before he is pulled over.

Right then, back to the shortened lineout variations and developing the rolling maul.

Better Rugby Coaching