A talented centre slips through a gap and is tackled ten meters short of the line, by the fullback in a perfect low hit, as he is going to ground, he flips up a perfect pass and a great try is scored.
The bench and coaches are celebrating, the crowd cheering, moments later the same centre steps, as he is almost through he slips a chicken wing, Sonny Bill, pass (the crowed gasp) and the fullback breaks the line, as he is tackled he attempts to offload to the wing, the pass misses his man and a potential try-scoring opportunity is lost, as its on the stroke of halftime the coaches message is a clear, stop the fifty-fifties.
So many times have I heard coaches say don’t throw fifty-fifties or even banning the offload all together. So is the offload a "fifty-fifty"? Is it not a skill that can be coached?
In this article I will take you through a step by step process that when followed the offload becomes a high percentage skill, that young players love to execute. Interesting stats from the 2019 Super Rugby season, is that the top 4 offloading teams, were also in the top 6 teams for clean line breaks. And three of those teams in the top 5 teams for tries scored. So clearly offloading can improve your team's chances for breaking the line and scoring tries.
As a coach, it will remain your decision whether to coach the offload or not, to me the offload is a skill that when properly coached can give your team continuity and doesn’t allow the defence time to realign. These factors lead to a team ready to score tries. I even share a video of a drill and training game for you to look at.
Step 1. Ball in two hands: A simple thing that us coaches often forget is to remind ball carriers to always run with the ball in two hands, that forces the defender to watch the attacker as he can transfer the ball at any stage. The defender must worry about the ball carrier and inside support.
Step 2 Beat the defender and handoff: The ball carrier must always try and beat his direct defender, by using his feet, or playing with his speed. If the defender adjusts, the ball carrier can try to hand off the defender. Never allow your players to run straight at the defender always attack a weak shoulder.
Step 3 Ball away from contact and grip: The ball carrier must always transfer the ball away from contact. The grip on the ball is very important and if the player can it must be grasped between the thumb and forefinger giving more control over the ball and allowing the ball carrier better accuracy in making the offload.
Step 4 Dominate contact area: After the steps are followed above, the most important part to make a successful offload is for the ball carrier to dominate contact, driving and pumping the legs to get behind the defender. Once this is achieved the ball carrier is in a strong position.
A key factor in the decision making of whether to offload or not. Simply put if the ball carrier did not dominate contact there should be no offload, a pretty easy decision for the player to make.
Step 5 See the Hands: After dominating contact and getting the defender behind you, it is very important to first see the supporters hands, once you can see his hands you can fire the offload. Once again, if we look for the hands we can see whether there are defenders between us, as attacking players.
Step 6 Support towards the ball carrier: Once the ball carrier steps his support runners from the outside he must step towards the space he has taken the defender out of. So he must change his angle towards the ball carrier allowing for a short pop up pass. This stops other defenders getting in the way of the offload and makes it a pretty safe pass.
With these 6 easy key points to offloading, I hope to encourage coaches to start coaching the offload, as it is very difficult to defend a well-executed offload.
Schoolboy rugby players love Sunny Bill Williams and they all love to watch the SWB offload (chicken wing), when coached correctly and after following these steps, the stats will improve to 90% chance of making the pass.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS:
1 BALL IN TWO HANDS
2 TRY BEAT THE DEFENDER & HANDOFF
3 BALL AWAY FROM CONTACT & GRIP
4 DOMINATE THE CONTACT
5 SEE THE SUPPORTERS HANDS
6 SUPPORT TOWARDS THE BALL CARRIER
As coaches, we have to equip our players with the tools to make a good decision in any situation, and if we going to limit our players skill sets they will rather go look for other forms of entertainment that will allow them the opportunity to express themselves.
Lets’ not limit our players to a "no offload" rule, rather coach the offload to keep continuity and let the boys express themselves. Nothing beats the gasps in the crowd, at a schoolboy game, when a great step or chicken wing is made and the centre, turns into the talk of the boarding establishment for the week to come.
Let the boys play!
Andre Tredoux #Dare2Care #Enthusiasmwins #Lovetheﬁght Please feel free to contact me and have a coaching chat. Tredoux.firstname.lastname@example.org