Katleho Lynch – Tempo Is Key In Attack


Attack by Katleho Lynch

My philosophy: Go forward and don’t let the defence recover. Tempo is key!

The season is almost upon us and teams will have already started working on their attack shapes and preparing to score a lot of tries. Below I discuss a few attack principles that coaches need to focus on to get their attack functioning and most importantly scoring.

Some important questions to ask in planning your attack:

How do you build your attack?

What type of players do you have?

Skillful forwards?

Forwards that can dominate gainline?

Athletic back row?

Quick outside backs?

Inside backs with strong kicking game?


Different attack shapes to consider:

There are different attack shapes that I as a coach have been exposed to. An attack shape is how we split our forwards on the field and how we want to utilize them best to suck in defenders and attack the space that we create outside. The trend is that teams and coaches are keeping loose forwards or hookers in the edges. By doing that you are allowing for mistmatches and for forwards to run against backs.

Below are the shapes I have been exposed to:

1331, 2222, 1322, 242, 233

I have attached a coaching source I use to learn that explains briefly on what attack shape is. It is a valuable source and all coaches can learn from it.


Coaches always ask which is the best shape? I always respond by saying that there is no best shape it’s a matter of using the right players and coaching the detail correctly. There have been teams who have been successful with the  different shapes mentioned above.

Playing off 9 and 10

I am a believer in mixing it up between playing off 9 and playing off 10. Good defensive sides will prefer to defend against teams that play off 10 because then they know that they can get off the line and put pressure, that is why it’s important that if you play off 10 that you have inside options to keep the catch Up defenders busy. When playing off 9 you also force the attack to make hits and test their tackle technique and you also play close to the gainline.

What makes a good attacking team?

  1. They score tries
  2. They score off the first phase and multiple phases
  3. Simple is better!
  4. They know their roles
  5. Smart decision makers
  6. Linkage between 9,10 & 12 as they are the drivers on the attack


I will look at two attack shapes namely 1331 and 242 and list a few advantages and disadvantages of each system but not limited.

1331 Advantages

  1. Can play off 9 and 10
  2. Can control rush defence
  3. Can play with width
  4. Can use 12 as another distributor

1331 Disadvantages

  1. Your ball is under threat of arrival players are late
  2. Forwards are decision makers
  3. 9 must make accurate decisions

242 Advantages

  1. 1345 Save energy
  2. You have numbers at the breakdown
  3. Nice width on attack
  4. Play off 10 most of the time
  5. Kicking game is controlled by 10
  6. Can split the defence

242 Disadvantages

  1. Rush defence can catch you behind the line
  2. Play off 10


How to improve your attack?

  1. Decision making drills must be within the shape that you are playing
  2. Small numbers
  3. Game based training
  4. Everyone must have the same skills

How do you stop defenders?

  1. Use decoys
  2. Miss passes
  3. Cut it passes
  4. Mini moves
  5. But simple is better!

Playing against a rush defence

  1. Use inside passes or minus passes back on the inside
  2. Inside balls with decoys
  3. Always kick space in behind!

Coaches should ensure that they focus on coaching the return play on attack. You will find at a schoolboy level that defence normally over fold which creates space on the blind side. In closing, I would like to say that coaches need to look at players on disposal. They should decide on a shape they want to play. Always encourage the link between 9,10 and 12 as they are the drivers and in charge of our attack system. Have options of 9,10 and 12. Ensure that you coach players to win the gain line. Come up with a clear calling system. Lastly, don’t forget the kick space and make sure you score!!