Offloading from kick receipts Posted over 2 years ago

Photo: Sydney Stars Rugby

Offloading from kick receipts

The success of a professional team in the modern era of Rugby football can often be measured by their capacity to offload in contact, accurately and under control. In his coaching module on Offload and Continuity, Gregor Townsend insists on the importance of creating the conditions for an effective offload with the ball-carrier entering contact on his own terms – either by establishing positive momentum with a powerful forward step, or by pushing the tackler away from his body with a fend, or by working his arms and shoulders either past or above the level of the tackle.

One of the specific situations from which an attacking side can look to build momentum from an offload is in the receipt of high kicks. There were a couple of excellent examples of just how effective this method can be in the recent Rugby Championship match between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane.

The receiver of the high ball in both cases is the Wallaby full-back, Israel Folau. The first event took place midway through the first half.

• As soon as Folau catches the ball, he is looking to take a first step straight forward at 16:37, as Gregor Townsend recommends. This puts him on the front foot physically.

• Although there are two South African tacklers involved, Folau is careful to keep his arms and shoulders above the level of contact as the tackle is made. Both Jess Kriel and Oupa Mohoje are below the level of Folau’s arms and the ball at 16:37

• As Folau turns to deliver the pass, his main support (10 Quade Cooper) manoeuvres himself into the ‘sweet spot’ – the zone directly behind the receiver. When Folau offloads, Cooper is less than one metre away so the pass will be short

• Four defenders have now converged around the ball, so as in the coaching module drills this is the right time to make the second pass and exploit the lack of defensive width. Cooper immediately looks to his outside, running at the last defender Bryan Habana before springing his centre Samu Kerevi down the left side-line for the clean break.

• The offloads don’t stop there! As soon as Cooper has delivered the pass he works through to the perfect inside support channel without over-running the ball, so that Kerevi can offload in his own turn at 16:43

The second example occurred in the last ten minutes of the first period.

• On this occasion, Folau is able to take four or five steps before punching into contact. Once again, he wants to establish a higher position with arms and ball above the level of the tackle. In order to achieve this, he moves towards the shorter of the two potential tacklers (Jessie Kriel) rather than engaging the much taller defender (#4 Eben Etzebeth) who at 2.03m would be better able to smother the offload:

• Quade Cooper’s realignment is both accurate and economic. He drops three steps backwards and to Folau’s left, as he correctly anticipates that this is the side the Wallaby full-back will look to offload:

At the moment of delivery Cooper is no more than one metre from the ball.

• As the offload is delivered, there are four Springbok defenders converging on Folau. Although space and time are both short, Cooper immediately makes the ‘no-look’ pass behind his back to ensure continuity after the offload. Kerevi finds himself in space down the left once more – all because the second pass has been made after the defence has been attracted to the initial contact point.


Very few of us have the height, physical strength and ball-skills to be able to offload in contact like Israel Folau!

However, by following the simple rules set out by Gregor Townsend in his coaching module, one offload can fan the flames of a significant attack – especially from kick receipts.

Establishing the first step ‘punch’ of forward impetus, getting the arms and shoulders above or past the tackler(s) for the passer; keeping support play short, patient and behind the ball, and making the second pass to exploit width after the offload for the receiver are all essential ingredients in the recipe Gregor Townsend provides.

The Rugby site is the only online coaching resource to offer a truly global perspective, subscribe for 12 months – now at a lower price point.

Enter your email address to continue reading

We frequently post interesting articles and comment from our world class content providers so please provide us with your email address and we will notify you when new articles are available.

We'll also get in touch with various news and updates that we think will interest you. We promise to not spam, sell, or otherwise abuse your address (you can unsubscribe at any time).


comments powered by Disqus

Nick has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2002), Mike Ruddock (2004-2006) and latterly Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Since then, three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for, or won national sports book awards. The latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union. It is entitled “The Iron Curtain”. Nick has also written or contributed to four other books on literature and psychology. "He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches."

Topic News & Opinions
Applicable to Coaches   Players   Others   Supporters and fans  

Related articles

How to find mismatches against the single-line defence

Arguably the biggest change in Rugby’s professional era occurred when the game started to import defensive coaches from League. Analyst Nick Bishop looks at how modern professional sides are looking to break through increasingly tighter rugby league style defences.

How Warren Gatland won the preparation war in Cardiff

Warren Gatland’s knowledge of the game in the UK and Ireland is anything but one-sided. He has coached in Ireland, Wales and with Wasps in England and more importantly, he has coached on three consecutive British & Irish Lions tours. Analyst Nick Bishop details how that ‘inside knowledge’ gave him and Wales a priceless advantage against England in Cardiff.

How to play the ‘libero’ like Faf de Klerk

The ‘libero’ is an evocative term in the Soccer vocabulary. It describes the free role played from a defensive position occupied by outstanding players like Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, Ronald Koeman from the Netherlands, and Gaetano Scirea and Franco Baresi of Italy. Eventually the libero died out of the professional arm of the game with the demise of man-marking. However as Analyst Nick Bishop illustrates in the use of the scrum-half as the free man on defence have occurred recently in rugby through players like South African Faf de Klerk.

What attention to detail at the cleanout really means

Ireland’s Joe Schmidt already coaches with the same values as his All Black counterparts, Sir Graham Henry and Steve Hansen. He insists on high standards of behaviour both on and off the field, on the need to ‘sweep the sheds’ and take responsibility for every individual action. I believe this makes him a New Zealand head coach-in-waiting. Analyst Nick Bishop explores the attention to detail from Joe Schmidt’s Irish team in his latest article.

Getting your defence right: when to ‘dig’ and when to ‘wrap’

It is probably no accident that the teams with Farrell-coached defences only lost two of the six Tests they played against the All Blacks. Against other opponents in the same time-frame, New Zealand have scored tries for fun, averaging a runaway 5.7 tries per match on their way to a 90% plus win rate. Analyst Nick Bishop explores one of Ireland’s key breakdown defence strategies when to ‘wrap’ around into a new position, and when to ‘dig’ for a turnover after a tackle has been made.