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Principles of attack


In sequential order the Principles of Attack are:

  • gain possession of the ball;
  • use the ball to go forward to create space;
  • support the ball-carrier
  • maintain continuity
  • exert pressure to score points

Communication Links All These Principles Together


1. Gain Possession

To gain possession of the ball, the team must be competent in the individual, mini unit and unit skills needed at scrums, lineouts, kick-offs and restarts.

This involves collective skills at each of these formations as well as the individual skills of catching, picking up the ball and kicking.

2. Go Forward

Once possession has been won, the team must attack by going forward. Forward movement will ensure opposition:

  • are on the back foot;
  • will need to regroup to stop forward movement, thus creating space in other areas.

Using the ball going forward will utilise individual, mini-unit and unit skills.

  • Using kicks to move the ball forward should result in:
    1. gaining territory
    2. pressuring the opposition
    3. regaining possession

NB Kicking may result in possession being lost.

  • The option that is chosen will depend on:
    1. understanding what is required;
    2. communicating it;
    3. executing best option.

3. Support

The attack is continued by supporting team mates who position themselves with depth in order to:

  • provide options to the ball-carrier;
  • communicate options;
  • utilise space;
  • provide continuity.

Support play is the most common role in the game. It is important to be effective and work hard "off the ball". Skills in contact need to be developed so that options other than just going to ground are created.

4. Continuity

If the defence prevents the attack from continuing it will be necessary to:

  • engage the opposition with the aid of your support;
  • retain possession going forward;
  • utilise the space that is created.

The development of a ruck or maul creates an offside line, which allows the attack even more time and space. If the defence does not contest the ruck or maul, the formation may go forward until a try is scored.

5. Pressure

Pressure occurs when the attacking team is able to:

  • use possession going forward;
  • retain possession through effective support, until it scores.

Pressure can be exerted from anywhere on the field.