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The Importance of Quick Ball & Demanding Scrum-Halves

Aaron Smith in action for the All Blacks

The production of quick ball is an art. Quality technique is required, plus strength, composure and balance. With these components in place they ignite the game.

Aaron Smith (NZ) and François ‘Faf’ de Klerk (SA) demand quick ball. They are often in place before its presentation. At this point more is added – sniping runs, running arcs, shaping to pass, acceleration, de-acceleration, long, short passes, twists and turns.

Both players are a cocktail of action and involvement. They are the “pest” you cannot swot! Then they kick the ball with such precision, you don’t have to turn around to know you have to retreat 40 meters to the lineout.

Both are a fuse wire, sparking away. The internal wheels never stop turning and their actions demand a response. You must be in position simultaneously, because you may get the ball. Their actions demand your presence.

If rugby union is to survive this period of TMO, whispers from the side line, re-set scrums and huddles before the line-out, we need more demanding scrum halves!

A few seasons ago I was fortunate to coach some young French players in SW France. We worked on some natural support running lines. Within seconds the practice was electric, it matched the players DNA. I swore, I must come back and do some more coaching with these and similar players. Watching South Africa play, you get the feeling there is so much potential to be exposed. The demands of De Klerk support this view…

“Produce me quick ball and I will release your potential”.

The production of quick ball is the games future. If you are an ambitious young coach, go do some coaching in France and South Africa and find your coaching sweet spot. That moment when “you know” that you are in the right place, doing the right thing.

Your place in coaching is out there BUT you must implant it. Start with the production of quick ball and watch it grow.

Mike Penistone


About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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