Friday, November 17, 2006

Support Skills: Rucking part 2 - Coaching the Seal

One technique that has become popular in recent years is the "seal".

The essential difference between this and more traditional techniques is the role of the very first support player. Providing the she arrives to the ball carrier BEFORE the ball carrier has been brought to ground, that initial support player plays an active role in ball retention and ball presentation, rather than just stepping over the player and driving.

The technique can creates controversy because of it's similarity to bridging (which is illegal). When executed poorly, the technique can also bring penalties for "diving over" or "making the ball unplayable". On the flip side, this technique provides a very fast clean ball to the scrumhalf, provides greater ball retention than other methods, and allows for more go forward options and dynamic play.

The following footage is of Kathy Flores, WNT Head Coach, and Candi Orsini teaching this techniques as part of a joint camp between the Eagles, MARFU, and NRU in the spring of 2006.

Thanks to the WNT for their permission to present this footage here.

Though out this session, a few things got my attention.

An attempt to step (evade) the defender was presented as standard.
Keeping the feet moving and going forward was a next best option.
The decision to go down was presented as the BALL carriers decision (ie, not support telling the ball carrier to go to ground, but vice versa).


Blondie said...

This is really good to read/see Lisa. Especially the video. Thanks!

I'm totally digging your blog. :)

OBG said...

Here's a how-to video on how to not play by the laws. Specifically, you may not bind prior to contact (that's a flying wedge) and you may not ruck with your head and shoulders lower than your hips.

But no referee calls these anymore. Maybe I'm at fault for being the last to know but my club just got beat in large part due to a technique called turtling (apparently). The opposition would pick up the ball at the back of a ruck and immediately bind with another player and even pass the ball between them. All of this before contact. Then, after contact, whoever the player was in the back would bridge over.

This is boring rugby, though quite successful. You really need only about 8 players on the field to work this. Three in the ruck, two to do the turtle and another three to go over the next ruck. And you inch your way down the field -- and send the spectators home.

Anonymous said...

sorry obg, I you can see in the video of the two WNT coaches, the seal is done after the ball carrier has contact with the defender therefore not a flying wedge. This technique is used at the highest levels by both the men's and women's national teams (senior and U23) and beyond.

Also I think you are referring to what the National Teams call a "power up". Player A picks, turns and hit the defender and Player B drives on her at the instant she hits contact...very legal again and very effective. The best way to defend this is to have your team bring the initial ball carrier to ground before Player B begins to drive.

Flashy rugby may appease spectators,but thats not why I play or coach. If teaching my players a technique will make them more successful rugby players and help them reach the highest level of play they aspire to then I will do it, even if its viewed as "boring" As far as I am concerned seeing well-executed up and coming techniques by collegiate players is just as exciting!

OBG said...

I'll respond. I understand that binding after contact is legal, but what I see more of is binding prior to contact (not in the video, you are correct). Sometimes it's a split second, sometimes longer. If it's too much prior, it seems to get called.

As for boring vs. effective, I guess it's a matter of staying on top of trends and paying attention. It's good to be at the front of the wave.

But the law committee has consistently made modifications to ensure a more open form of rugby to allow clean ball and more action. Take a look at an international game now vs. 10 years ago. If what I'm seeing now continues (and I'm not seeing what I am specifically referring to in the internationals), there will be a change to open up the game because the game has always been about creating space and then using it.

Gerrymc said...

Hi there. I'm a coach from Scotland and I hope you don't mind some comment. I coach U18 and District Pathway which is one step below age grade International. Watching the video, and I realise it was only a section of the session being shown, but I was struck by how much 'watch me do this' by the coach there was.I'm not a great believer in the coach doing the skills he/she is coaching. Explain the drill/skill. Walk through it with the players, observe, invite comment, give feedback, and develop the drill to match intensity. As I said, this may have been done off camera, but questioning why we do someting is a big part of player education rather than just 'this is how we do this and this'. I have to disagree with the comment that the ball carrier decides when to go down. That call must come from the support, who can see what's happening in front, while the ball carrier's main objective is to dominate the contact, and drive forward.

Just call me coach.... said...
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