The influence of an offload game
The use of the offload as a means of attacking space is a growing trend. Rugby World Cup 2019 has shown how the top sides have taken this skill and used it as part of their team strategies. For those who may have read an earlier blog about the ‘Race’ the offload is a good attacking skill to use against a bigger, more physical side or one that has a strong defensive set up. The offload allows the attack to win the race over the defence who do not have enough time to get into shape and off the line.
There are several drills available to use when developing an offload strategy. When looking for some ideas The Rugby Site is a great place to start. Check out the video by Kyohei Morita, former Japanese international.
One of the best places to start when planning your own drills is to ensure the player throwing the offload gets eye contact with the receiver. While players at the highest level may throw a ‘blind’ pass, ensure in the early stages of development your players look to engage with their eyes. The image below shows Kieran Read, a player at the highest level, sighting his target. Notice in this two-hand press pass his hands finish to the target. Other great coaching points in this clip include getting hands free through contact and controlling his body on the ground.
When designing an offload program the coach must pay equal attention to the support players role. Encourage them to communicate with the ball carrier as they come from depth, behind the ball and at pace. Some systems encourage the ball carrier to open space for the support player through footwork, a fend or a combination of the two. With the support player trailing behind the ball carrier they can adjust their speed and angle to be sure they are in a good position to receive the ball.
The image below shows the Japanese players tracking the ball carrier at depth. Look at the video here and notice how each player looks toward the receiver prior to the offload.
We never want to stifle flair in our players and we should always encourage innovation which is a big part of an offload. Executing the skill fundamentals of the offload well will increase the chances of success. In the image below we can see Scotland’s Jonny Gray gets eyes on his support player, who is tracking behind him with depth.
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