Rugby support play involves helping the ball carrier advance the position of the ball. Know what to do in open play and what to do when play breaks down.
When your team has the ball you aim to move the ball forwards, get the ball into the opposition in-goal area and score a try.
As the ball carrier, you want options and support so you can keep the opposition guessing about what you will do with the ball.
You also want support so you can break through the opposition or at least keep possession of the ball.
If you're not the ball carrier imagine yourself in the ball carrier's place and do whatever you can to give them options and support.
Stay on your feet. Players off their cannot take part in play.
Provide options in the following ways...
Put yourself in a position to receive a pass...
Be prepared to chase a kick...
Bind to the ball carrier
Simply show you are ready and able to receive the ball even though you may not actually believe you will. Give the opposition something to think about.
Emotional support is also very valuable. A bit of encouragement can lift a whole team. So can hearing the opposition arguing!
Frequently during a rugby game play will break down.
You may not know which team has possession of the ball.
Players from both sides may be near or around the ball.
In the right circumstances you can support by taking part in the contest for possession of the ball.
A tackle may have taken place and two players are on the ground near the ball (on the ground means at least one knee touching the ground).
If you are the tackler, once you release the tackled player and get up onto your feet you may go to the ball from any direction and attempt to get control of the ball (pick it up).
If you are involved in a tackle but you stay on your feet you are not a tackler and you must do as described below.
Another break-down in play may be an attempted tackle where the player is held but not taken to the ground and several players are around the ball.
Perhaps the ball is on the ground with several players clustered around.
You treat all these situations in a similar way. The diagrams below show you what to do.
Rugby support play directions of play
Remember which way you are playing.
The big arrows show the direction of play. There aren`t any actually painted on the pitch, so you have to do it on your own!
It`s not always easy until you have had some practice. You may have been swung around, turned upside-down and be crawling out from under a heap of other players.
The red/blue cross represents the players involved in a situation like those mentioned above.
There may be more than just two players involved.
around the players at the break-down.
Rugby support play, draw an imaginary box
The sides of the box are parallel to the touch lines. The ends are parallel to the goal lines.
The box goes around all parts of all players involved.
Rugby support play offside lines
the off-side lines run through the end lines of the box.
If you are closely involved in the break-down situation (tackler, tackled player, holder, held player) you are OK where you are. (If you are on the ground, roll away)
Otherwise you must be behind your offside line or you must retreat until you are behind it, taking care to avoid being involved in or hindering play.
Rugby support play support lines
you must enter the break-down area (the imaginary box) by crossing the part of your off-side line that forms your end of the box.
Going through this process to become involved at the break-down is commonly called entering "through the gate".
What you do when you get there is another matter.
It depends on what is happening at the break-down.
Generally speaking you may only join the other players by becoming bound alongside the hindmost of your players in that group.
This is covered in pages on rucking and mauling.
Kicking is important in rugby, but there tends to be too much of it.
You need the ball so you can score. Kicking gives away the ball.
Fear is one of the main reasons for kicking. Fear of being isolated from team mates, caught with the ball and so responsible for losing it.
In the moment, you rationalise that you are getting out of danger - the danger of turning over possession in your territory..
In reality the ball is usually back where it started a few moments later, but your team is no longer in control!
This is why rugby support play is so important.
Except in extreme circumstances the ball carrier should be able to absolutely depend on support from a number of players.
Perhaps before each game players should pledge to support the ball carrier. Instead of the idea that the ball carrier is at fault, take collective responsibilty for losing possession.
Your team will need to be fitter and more focussed on support but you should control the ball longer by removing the need for the ball carrier to play it safe by kicking.
When you make a break you want players there to help. Create a culture. Be there for them, encourage each other, take pride in your rugby support play.
You`ll be fitter, play a great style of rugby and win more games!