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Bridging the Gap - The Breakdown - HS and A with Chris Pollock

Ex international referee Chris Pollock in this new series explains what referees are looking for during a game bridging and the gap between coaches and refs.. This series is all about the breakdown.

Part 1. Chris Pollock - Introduction   2:22 Free video

TRS introduces Chris Pollock, ex international referee. In this video we hear from Chris as he explains how he can help coaches and players understand the game better. Enjoy!


Part 2. Breakdown of the breakdown 2:21 Free video

In the first video of this series, Chris explains how he can help bridge the gap between coaches and refs. Today he covers the breakdown. Enjoy!

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Part 3. Contesting for the ball after the Tackle 1:17 Free video

Ex international referee Chris Pollock discusses who has rights to the ball and for how long after the tackle is made. No excuses now at the breakdown.

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Part 4. Contesting for the ball after the Tackle #2 3:47 Member content

In this video, we look at decisions after the tackle and in particular the gain line. Enjoy!

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Part 5. Contesting for the ball after the Tackle #3 3:47 Member content

The ruck has formed, who can do what to secure possession? Watch and learn!

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Part 6. Standing tackle developing into a Maul 2:01 Member content

Watch Chris Pollock’s latest referee segment and find out when a standing tackle becomes a maul. Enjoy!

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Course Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Duration 15:35
Topics Youth Coaching Breakdown Officiating
Applicable to Coaches   Players   Others   Supporters and fans  
Languages English

Click on CC button at top left of video for other translation options.

Course reviews

Really helpful video. Breakdown is always a tough one to ref and coach but this gives a lot of clarity. More ref videos please!


Cheers Chris, love the breakdown of each scenario for both ruck and maul from both player/ coach and referee perspectives.


Fantastic tutorial. That’s the best demonstration and explanation of the ruck laws that I’ve witnessed. Great work Chris.

New Zealand

Excellent videos – will there be one on the work of the ball carrier on the ground and their 1 dynamic movement?


Great. More ref videos please


I have a question. Where is the offside line ? Is it at the last man’s foot?

Arabian Gulf

Terrific. Extremely helpful.


Great to have the referees point of view. I believe that Matthew Carter is correct about the time given to the 9 at the back of rucks when the ball is clearly out. It may be an unwritten rule now that high level players do not go after these balls as a trade off for the referee allowing them so often to stand in an offside position (not behind the closest body part to their own goal) beside a ruck with out joining. Many are allowed to stand mid ruck either defensively or offensively with just a hand in contact. This, in my opinion, is what kills the flow of the game as the next tackler is coming from an offside position. Part of coaching young players is helping them to identify when the ball is out of the ruck and now time to attack. I usually fall back to “If a bird can poop on it, it’s out!” More content from experienced referees is welcome. Thank you Chris.


Brilliant. So many subtle aspects to the contact area law. Just picked up two new ones!


Subtitular al castellano, please


The new laws will be interesting – Going to a session tonight to get full clarity!!!

The old Ruck law was never refereed properly for it stated that a Ruck was one player from either side in physical contact OVER the ball. Quite clearly in one of the examples highlighted the ball was right at the back clearly not between two players in physical contact OVER the ball so should have been fair game for the defending team to go around the ruck and pinch & potentially spoil the ball

Far too much protection is given to Scrum Half’s to play the ball at their leisure especially when lining up a box kick manoeuvring the ball often with their feet hands etc. Taking an absolute age to get their box kick in. Referees have allowed this in my opinion for it gives them an easier time of things when actually the ball is not in a ruck at all

For me that ball is again fair play for players on the defensive team to go and steal

This licence given to Scrum Half’s more than anything is slowing the game down




really great to have some laws stuff but I really got confused now. Last situation doesn’t seem a ruck to me, cause defending player never was on his feet. Could you please explain?


Law 16.1(b) clearly states that players must be on their feet for a ruck to be formed. Scenario 2 as outlined cannot be a ruck. Can you please clarify?


In the ideal Rugby World this would be fine but when the Laws are not applied we see Players coming in from the side , all day long, as was the case in the recent AB’s v Lions series.

New Zealand

Yes. Perfect age group U15s as well.


More of these please. Great insight.


This is the best TRS series yet. Anyone who has coached an age group team knows that a good Ref will be a huge help to the development of players at the breakdown. The opposite of course is the same and good work through the week can be spoilt by challenging Ref decisions in the game. Too many side line experts have never Refereed a game( or played) and only see rugby on the box with assistant Refs and 13 cameras to help. Most age group refs are pleased if they get 2 Touch Judges


Great idea. Really looking forward to this series.

New Zealand

As a former player, referee and coach, albeit at a lower club level I understand where Chris is coming from. Club spectators and many players love to do down refs yet nearly all have never reffed or read a law book. Rugby site should build on this expertise aimed at club level players and hopefully a more informed understanding of a refs role will develop.


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