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Adapted Laws – Generate Quickness & Speed!

The introduction of adapted laws during the COVID pandemic in both rugby union and rugby league has resulted in a faster product, with increased continuity where both players and coaches can produce a more exciting game.

Winning quick ball is now the issue in Rugby Union. Coaches must look at the role of the ball carrier and more importantly the role of the inside support player. Establishing go-forward quickly demands immediate re-alignment from those not involved at the tackle, with the agile, quick players available to shift the ball or run straight and pass. For that reason, it is preferable to keep the outside support player out of the ruck.

In defence, tackle technique becomes critical. Do you want your tackler to stay in the tackle and compete or drop out to become the defender on the far side and leave the inside defender to clean out and contest for the ball?

Key words are (1) dynamic and (2) technique. In attack, get both right, maintain possession and produce quick ball. In defence, create turn over ball or make it hard to use for your opponents.

Throughout the tackle count in league or phase play in union, players should constantly be striving to get the agile, quick players close to the action. Through their running quickness and passing skills they can add pace to the attack. Luke Keary (Roosters) is particularly effective at this. The injection of quickness into the attack is the perfect hors d’oeuvres for the speed merchants out wide. It may mean however that as phase play develops, players should constantly look at changing position and consequently adopt a new role, watch out for Auckland Blues winger Caleb Clarke appearing off the wing, he’s an emerging talent.

Application in Training

So, despite the lockdown, coaches have something to get their teeth stuck into, they must make sure tomorrow is not just another yesterday.

If you’re the head coach, meet with the other coaches and plan how you can make your practices/sessions relevant and exciting! Put your plans on a white board outside the dressing room door so players can analyse on arrival. You might want to suggest, the faster you train, the less you train.

Why drag a session out for 90 minutes when it could be done in 70?

Put key words on the white board…(1) dynamic, (2) technique and (3) quickness. Let the players be under no illusion what the session and new coaching program and style is all about.


Finally, players are competitors! Ensure there is lots of competition in your sessions. This can be achieved even if contact remains outlawed. Fast overload games are a great way to start or finish your sessions.

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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