Basics of rugby: ball handling, protecting possession and defending

Coach Persanis provides timely pre-season tips on ball handling, protecting possession and defense.
With the ball:
  • Carry it in two hands so the defense doesn’t know what you will be doing.
  • Bring the defender to you and then pass.
  • Pass to where your teammate will be, not where they are.
  • Stay low!
  • Run straight (don’t drift across the field bringing the defense with you!).
  • Travel in a group. The forwards should be supporting/rucking in groups, not singles.
  • Deliver the ball to your teammate. Your job is to deliver a ball to your teammate, not just chuck it his/her way! It should be passed so that it is easy for your teammate to catch, not rifled at them from three feet away.
Protecting possession:
  • Stay on your feet. Rugby is played on your feet, not on the ground.
  • Don’t go to ground until you have support.
  • Do not get isolated.
  • Fall correctly with the ball, with your body between the defense and the ball. Place the ball back; don’t throw it.
  • Clear the path. When entering a ruck, pick a target and hit them hard, clearing them out of the way.
  • Be patient. Keep your spacing and stay deep when your teammate has the ball.
  • Do not run out of bounds. Good guideline: unless you absolutely know you can beat the opposite man do not run within five yards of the sideline.
  • Come up together, creating a solid wall not a zig zag.
  • Tell your teammates who you have.
  • Defend from the inside out, if outnumbered. Make them beat you with passes not just running.
  • Tackle with the correct shoulder. Always have your head behind the ball carrier (cheek to cheek).
  • Go low in the tackle.
  • Do not fall for the fake. Make the ball carrier pass the ball. When he fakes a pass, hit him as hard as you can.