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Principle Two: Going Forward


To get over the gain line creating momentum to scoring.


Because there are only seven players in attack the remaining six must work on making themselves available to the ball carrier all the time.

This means that, should a player be out of play and not in a position to move into play they must move back or “reload” to do this.

This is based on the game being one in which the ball can only be passed backwards. This inevitably means that the passer is immediately out of play ahead of the ball upon completing the pass.

As a result, the aim is to have 6 players in support of the ball carrier. The easiest way for this to happen is to have the ball carrier moving forward getting over the gain line as soon as possible so the others can reload and move forward in support.

Lineout Attack


If the ball is won at the lineout and passed immediately to the attack line the players involved in the lineout are out of play until they reload.

Given that there can be 5 players - 3 forwards, a halfback/scrumhalf thrower and a back (blind-side wing) - inside the 15metre line a more immediate attack is to go directly forward and use support play and a maul to play down the 5m- 15m channel.

The halfback can go around the front or the back of the line-out to receive the ball, wherever the players have drawn the opposition away from, to begin this forward movement.

The aim is to score by making close quarter, “gut” passes to the receiver by playing linear support down the channel OR

to form a three-man maul to go forward OR,

having drawn the defence to the play from their lateral positions use the ruck or maul to create an offside line and move the ball to the space the defence has moved from to score.

The ball can be passed without the ruck or maul being formed but there is a disadvantage as it is general play, there are no offside lines and the defenders can position themselves anywhere to stop the attack.

Scrum Attack


To overcome the problem of players in the scrum being out of play when the ball is hooked attack the gain line immediately.

This has to be initiated by the halfback immediately taking the running line on the opposite side of the scrum to which the defending halfback is standing.

Support can be immediate using the hooker if binding is under the arms of the props and the props cross bind on each other.

In addition, the props should bind firmly on their opposing prop to delay their entry into the play in defence. Once again it is play down the channel using the gut pass, maul and ruck and moving the ball to the space left by the defence being drawn in to defend by tackling at a ruck or maul.

If the first receiver needs to position behind the scrum in case the ball is hooked very hard this player gathers the ball goes forward to get ahead of the four players in front and link with them.

Attack from Rucks and Mauls

It is recognized that the ball can be taken forward from within the maul. When the ball is delivered from the ruck or maul the following are the key factors that will result in the outcome being achieved i.e. getting over the gain line.


Assess where the attack has an advantage and move the ball there to go forward.

Amongst the options are the following:

  1. From all situations the player performing the halfback role should attack to hold the defence and to prevent the defence from immediately drifting with the ball when it is passed.
  2. If the defence has spread out play straight ahead and look to break the gain line and offload to support following down the channel.
  3. If the defence is grouped around the ball use support to clean out and free the ball. Go to the side in which the attack has greater numbers, the overlap.
  4. If the attack moves the ball to the side at which the defence is greater, then the ball carrier takes the ball forward and support should come from behind saturating the channel with more attackers than defenders.
  5. Be alert as to where there is space behind the defence line i.e., they have no sweeper, and kick to this space and chase to recover the ball or tackle in a defensive formation.
  6. When passing the ball down the channel use the side-step or the swerve to take the defence away from the channel and pass to support in the space the evasion has created.
  7. When passing across the field, hold the defence by committing each defender before passing the ball. Pull the pass back to create space for the next receiver so there is space to threaten the defence. Don’t drift across the field as the defence will move with the ball and will be able to “gang tackle’ the receivers.
  8. Remember that a miss pass that leaves out a receiver creates 2 problems. The first is that the defender of the potential receiver can drift with the ball and help tackle the next receiver. Secondly, because the ball is in the air for some time it can be easily intercepted and the length of time the ball is in the air gives the defence time to adjust.
  9. In general play where there are no offside lines the following are options for the attack:

a. Overload the channel on the far side of the field.

b. Attack immediately forward or at the first receiver.

c. Kick behind the defence and chase.

d. Form a maul or a ruck to create offside lines.

DON’T pass the ball to the attack line, as the defenders will be standing there.