The role of the fly half

Coaching tips and tactics you can adopt to create space, and therefore time, not just for the fly half, but for all your backs.

The pass from the scrum half (9) to the fly half (10) can be rushed, especially if your scrum or ruck is under pressure. This can result in teams being "squeezed" and hurried as the defence rushes up. This is a particular problem for the fly half.

The wider the fly half can stand, the better. It means the opposition flanker has further to travel to make a tackle, opens up space on the inside, and ensures that the opposition fly half is less likely to drift. There are then three running lines that the fly half can make to take a short pass from the scrum half.

1. Towards the pass

The fly half runs towards the pass. The opposition flanker will have to hold his line to tackle the fly half, and the opposition fly half will probably be set for some form of drift defence, if not a straight run.

Consequently, space is created on the outside shoulder of the fly half. A backs move with a pass or switch from the fly half to a player running back to the space can then be very effective.

10 Towards the Pass

This is the most unusual line to take and therefore one which is only worth using on the odd occasion. Have the fly half take the ball straight and then angling in can be even more effective.

2. Straight ahead

The fly half runs straight ahead at the gap between the opposition flanker and fly half. As one or both of them step in to make the tackle, the fly half passes into the space, either left or right.

10 Straight

This is the simplest way of creating space. Assuming a shortish pass from the scrum half, it is also easily defended. This is mainly due to the smaller gap between the flanker and fly half.

3. Working the big drift, finding the "different space"

The fly half runs further away from the scrum half pass than normal. This is the most contentious angle to take, because we normally expect fly halves to straighten the line. In other words to prevent the space being used up for the outside backs.

However, as an ex winger I know that there are few times in a game when the ball is moved along a back line to the winger, and thereby allowing him to run outside his opposite number. The big drift looks to create a "different space".

10 Big Drift

The fly half receives the ball moving forward and aims at the outside shoulder of the opposition fly half. The angle of run is then widened to change the aim to the inside shoulder of the opposition inside centre (12). The opposition fly half is then dragged further than he expects or wants. Though the defensive inside centre should be drifting, he is instead looking to tackle your fly half running at him.

The fly half now straightens his run at the last moment before contact, to hit the gap between the opposition fly half and centre. This creates space in a channel between the defensive flanker and fly half, since the flanker is having to cover more distance than he expected, and perhaps between the two defensive centres (12 and 13).

A simple pop pass to a straight runner, which is safer and more secure than a switch, then has a good chance of breaking through the defensive line.

This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills, tips and skills twice a week. 

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