Perfecting The Rugby Pass
I have been asked on numerous occasions why we spend so much time working on the fundamentals of the catch and pass. Most individuals who have asked these questions understand the priority of focus during the developmental years but their query is consistently directed more at the international and Olympic athlete. “Why would you prioritize so much of your coaching time to the fundamentals? Surely when working with the best of the best, their ability to catch and pass would be sufficient to play the game allowing greater focus on your frameworks and team strike plays?”
What people need to understand, especially the future generation of Olympic and international hopefuls is, there are so many components that are often outside of your control in the game of rugby that ultimately affect the outcome of ones execution. These include the opposition, fatigue, and your very own teammates. In my opinion, rugby is a game that is made up of multiple components where perfection is a rare outcome. However, because of the grace within the rules of the game we still have multiple chances to progress and achieve the desired outcome. As coaches we are consistently striving for maximal efficiency with the limited usage of energy, we do so in order to place our team in the best position to continue progressing throughout a match.
When looking across the world at the different styles of play, you will find on many occasions the difference between the number one ranked compared with the eighth ranked team is very minor. It comes down to their ability to execute the basics within frameworks that are often very similar. It is no different to a formula one or Nascar driver, where the majority of their training time is spent on enhancing ones control of their vehicle in the attempt to gain split second advantages throughout the duration of a race. Their vehicles are almost identical however it’s the individual’s ability to control their vehicle no matter the environment and conditions they are faced with. We are ultimately trying to do the same thing. Now lets look at a real example.
An attacker is in open space (whether 7’s or 15’s) with 22m to the try line while the closest defender is 5m’s inside him holding for the current ball carrier. The outside attacker knows if he receives the ball in front of him at full pace then no one will be able to stop him (trusting he does catch the ball). However he is also aware, if he over runs his team-mate, the pass is not given at the right time, or the accuracy of pass is poor… he will need to slow down as he checks for the ball and this will give the last defender a possible recovery opportunity.
One argument might be that in many situations if the attacking team maintains control of the ball in this field position it is highly likely they will still score within the coming phases. This is true but whether this occurs or not is a non-factor in my eyes when referring to maximizing the result. Why you might ask? The longer it takes for a team to achieve the desired outcome, the greater the physical fatigue element. As I mentioned earlier, rugby is made up of multiple components which have an effect on the other and the final result.
So if your question is still “why do we spend so much time on the fundamentals of catch and pass?”. Simply put, catch and pass is the foundation of every attacking structure no matter what version of the game you play.
By Chris Brown
International Rugby Coach & Head of Physical Performance.
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