Running rugby is a skillful style of play. By supporting the ball carrier
you keep the ball moving from player to player in preference to rucking,
mauling and kicking for position.
It`s a skillful, adventurous style of rugby
It`s a style of rugby played only by teams of fit and skillful players.
You enjoy your rugby by committing to keeping possession
of the ball and keeping it moving, searching for or creating weaknesses
in the defence.
I write from personal experience of many elements of this style and with the
benefit of having read Running RUGBY by Mark Ella 1995 (ISBN 0 7333 0359 5), a book I heartily
recommend for in-depth information.
In his chapter on "The Philosophy of Attack" Mark Ella explains how
attacking plays are used to create uncertainty and cause defenders to hesitate.
The simplest way of creating uncertainty is by deception. You have to make
the defending team believe, or at least suspect, that you are going to do
one thing, when your intention is to do another.
Running RUGBY , Mark Ella, 1995.
Mark is referring to "attacking plays" involving a number of players.
He could just as easily have been referring to individual evasion techniques
This style is rarely seen in the professional era and as a result is not
there to be seen and copied by other less experienced rugby players.
Skills you need for running rugby
and catching are of the utmost importance, especially under pressure.
The ability to run straight rather than across the field is essential.
This may sound simple but when opposition players are rushing forward,
to put you on the floor it makes it more difficult!
are also essential. The ability to put yourself in the place you can be most useful
at exactly the right moment, running at the correct angle and the correct speed
requires a great deal of practice
Alignment (positioning) for running rugby
Shallow, close alignment
One essential element is a relatively shallow alignment of the backs,
fairly closely spaced as opposed to the deeper alignment with much wider spacing
generally seen in modern professional rugby.
This alignment together with straight running and short, flat passes
ensures the ball carrier gets over the
gain line as soon
as possible. When you have passed the ball you are in play again almost
immediately because the ball carrier is soon ahead of you.
This makes it easy for you to follow the ball carrier and give support.
either on the inside or by looping around behind the ball carrier and coming
into the line to act as a decoy runner or take a
pop pass and go through a gap in
You can aslo add to the confusion for the defence if you
use cut out passes (missing out one player by passing the ball
across in front of them to a player wider out)
use planned moves like the fullback chiming
into the line and going through a gap
use individual evasion skills (EvtecHs or sidesteps) to sharply
change running lines
use a dummy pass
- make to pass one direction then either keep hold of
the ball or pass to a different player
Fit mobile forwards use the ball
A fit, mobile and motivated pack of forwards is also required. You must want
to play the running rugby style because it is harder for you than other
styles of play. There are fewer breaks in play for "breathers" and
you will be expected to have good
rugby handling and running skills.
Another essential element is you allow the ball to work for you.
This means you pass the ball often and wisely.
Make some ground then get rid of it.
Opponents can't move as fast as the ball
so send it speeding around the field - until it finds an unmarked player!.
There is less kicking for touch, less kicking for position and less kicking
just because it`s the safest option. Instead of standing, having a rest as the
ball sails back and forth you run back and forth supporting the ball carrier.
Keep involved in play, provide options
It`s the same for all players in a team devoted to running rugby.
As soon as you`ve got rid of the ball, look for a good way to get involved
again. Look for ways to support the ball carrier. Combine with other players
to give the ball carrier a number of widely differing otions so you can keep
the defence quessing about where the ball is going next.
Let the ball seek out weaknesses in defence. When a weakness is found
make sure you are there to take advantage and turn it into points.