Saturday, April 27, 2013

RLCM Extract - Rucks, Restarts & Raids

Rucks, Restarts and Raids with Steve Gough - Since football was first played in any form, participants have more often than not gravitated towards one aspect of the game. While there have occasionally been those fixated with tackling, most people typically enjoy the attacking side of play. It presents a greater chance to be expressive, to influence the game and be the centre of the show. Only one person can possess the ball and it is as if it represents a certain ordained divinity.

In the interests of pragmatism and winning percentages, rugby league coaches tend to divert attention to other areas. Because of the difficulty in encouraging arduous tasks such as correct support play or defensive structures, we often hear praise for "onepercent" or "under-rated" actions. Perhaps it is the fault of overkill by the media, but nowadays it's almost as if attacking play need not be praised, at least in the realm of coaches and elite players.
However, it will always remain that attack is what predominantly entertains the fans and what entices future players. RLCM decided to catch up with Steve Gough to break down three important attacking areas.
"If you look back through the history of rugby league, the ruck has always been important," says Gough. "But it's arguably never been emphasised so much as it is now. It's so vital."
We regularly hear about the concept of "winning the ruck" these days. You hear about getting up quickly off the defensive line, getting numbers in tackles, forcing a dominant tackle, turtling the player, working them on the ground, making for a slow play-the-ball. Of course these are all defensive terms.
In attack, to win the ruck you must do more than simply rise to your feet quickly once tackled. It starts a lot further back, perhaps even before the previous play. Clear communication sets things rolling, then when you've relayed your intentions, winning the ruck starts with a good, competitive attitude.
"I want my guy hitting the ball hard," says Gough. "I know a lot of coaches want their men to slip down once they hit the tackler and get on their hands and knees fast, but I like to see my players fighting in the tackle and working hard all over the field.
"Last year I actually had two players come to me and thank me for taking that approach with hit-ups. It's what the game is about."
On the technical side of things, approach to the ball is highly important. Advantage line running, timing and building leg speed all play a part, but a neglected facet is the angle at which the player shapes to receive the pass. Gough says he likes to see his player twist their torso towards the dummy-half to give them a better target area and line of sight.

Players will often angle outwards towards a gap or to get at smaller defenders, but they actually shrink the dummy-half's target area as they do so. There is no need to angle directly in at the marker, but good body positioning is helpful.......

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