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Go forward with the ball to create pressure and space will ensure the opposition are on the back foot and will need to regroup.

Once possession has been gained from a restart the attack must negotiate their way across the advantage line. It may often be the case that teams use patterns that involve initially passing the ball a long way backwards to create the space to go forward, but the outcome must always be to go forward across the advantage line.

Lateral Space

Space across the field will be created by the lateral positioning of team mates and the movement of the ball to a player in space who will ultimately penetrate.

Ideally, if the ball is in a congested area, it should be immediately moved laterally to space, and passing is best.

As defenders spread across the full width of the field to mark up to attacking team, space is created between each individual defender through which the attacker can penetrate.

Example 1 When an attacker is able to isolate the defender (1 v 1), there is an opportunity to beat the defence through the space on the left or right with a support player ensuring they are bursting on to the ball.

Example 2 An extra attacking player may enter the space between two attackers before the defence has been able to adjust.

Example 3 Space can also be created by the ball-carrier running a variety of angles in an attempt to threaten the defensive line, with a support player receiving a pass or kick as they run into the space which has been created.

Linear space

Linear space is the space between the two teams. From scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls it is the distance between the attack line and defence line.

It is manipulated by the attacking team’s ability to exploit faults in the opposition’s defence i.e. if the attack has the ability to exploit a loss in the alignment of the defence they will create space.

This is shaped most frequently by a defensive player moving ahead of team mates in the line or not staying up in the line and thus leaving a space. Attacking teams sometimes try to create extra space by moving away from the defence towards their own goal line. (But eventually they will have to go forward.)

The linear space between the teams can also be too much as it will provide the defence with time to regroup and set up the defensive line.

There is also space behind the defensive team and if the space is utilised by kicking into it, it can have an immediate effect if possession is regained.

Going forward with an organised attack pattern will enable you to support the collision zone and provide the necessary passing options. (‘Attack in 3’s’.)

Related Attack Principles Drills