Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

New ruck laws drill by David Clarke

With the ruck law interpretations favouring the ball team, here is a great drill from the Western Force coaching team to work on ball placement and clearing out.

Look out for top articles from Paddy O’Brien on the rulings, plus Mark Calverley on the “End of the Jackler” in the new International Rugby Coaching magazine.

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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?

Will this be the way the Lions win in 2009? by David Clarke

Here are some of the key points drawn from the statistical analysis of the 2009 Six Nations tournament. It will be interesting to see if the Lions follow the success of the Irish team and adopt their tactics.

The full text is available at this link.

From the report by Corris Thomas, IRB:

This year, IRELAND won the Grand Slam for the first time in over 60 years and they achieved it by bringing a distinctive approach to this year’s championship.

Gone was the high passing team, low kicking team that characterised Ireland’s play in recent years and in came a far more controlled pattern of play that exerted constant pressure on the opposition. The following extracts from the following report illustrates the extent of this approach:

¨ Far from being the highest passing team as in the recent past, Ireland were the lowest both in number of passes and rate of passing
¨ In one match they made just 82 passes
¨ Very few Irish passing movements contained more than 3 passes. Only 1 passing movement in every 38 contained 3 or more passes, this compared to 1 in 15 for the other 5 teams.

The Irish effort was far more concentrated on tight play as the following illustrations show:

¨ They were among the highest rucking team and kicking team with the most successful ruck retention rate
¨ They were turned over only 7 times in almost 500 rucks and mauls, a ratio far better than any other team
¨ In a tournament of few mauls, Ireland mauled far more than any other team
¨ Of 7 maul turnovers, 6 were achieved by Ireland
¨ They conceded only 3 tries none of which started inside their own half
¨ Their forwards were the least likely to pass the ball – and often significantly less likely. Their back row, for example, passed the ball on only 13% of occasions while the back rows of the other 5 teams passed on no less than 35% of occasions.
¨ They kicked almost all restarts short thereby maintaining constant physical pressure on their opponents
¨ They were the most successful team in gaining possession on opposition lineouts and 75% of their tries came from lineout possession

This approach was complemented by other major factors
¨ 11 of their 12 tries were converted, making tries worth an invaluable 7 points
¨ They were the least penalised team
¨ They obtained more possession than their opponents in 4 of their 5 matches.

Better Rugby Coaching

New ruling on the tackle area by David Clarke
May 13, 2009, 8:07 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , ,

Here is the latest ruling on the tackle area from the IRB:

Ruling Request from the NZRU and ARU Laws 15 and 16

Law 15 6 (b) states:
After a tackle any players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carrier’s possession.

Law 16.1 (b) states:
How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.4 (b) states:
(b) Players must not handle the ball in a ruck.

When a player has complied with Law 15 6 (b), is on his feet and playing the ball after a tackle and is then joined by an opposition player on his feet so that the situation outlined in 16 1 (b) occurs, can the player who has complied with Law 15 6 (b) continue to play the ball with his hands or at what point does he have to release the ball? This does not appear to be covered by Law.


Law 15 6 (a) states: After a tackle, all other players must be on their feet when they play the ball.

Law 15.6 (b) reads: After a tackle any player on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carriers possession.

Law 15 5 (e) states that: If opposition players who are on their feet, the tackled player must release the ball. This indicates that after a tackle a player on his feet may play the ball.

Law 16 1 (b) states: How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.1 refers to a player from each side in physical contact over the ball and implies that the ball is not in the possession of any player.

Providing a player from either side on their feet after a tackle comply with all aspects of Law 15 and have the ball in their hands prior to contact with an opposition player on his feet those players may continue with possession of the ball even if a player from the opposition makes contact with those players in possession of the ball.

Any other players joining the two players contesting the ball must not handle the ball in accordance with Law 16.4 (b). If the ball is not in possession of any player after a tackle and a ruck is formed players may not use their hands in accordance with Law 16.4 (b).

The Ruling is effective from May 23 for the start of matches in the June window and after the close of any domestic or cross border competitions

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