When a player makes a linebreak, defenders tend to panic and converge on the ball carrier. A focused defending unit would quickly communicate responsibility and trust each other, taking responsibility for the ball carrier, cutting off supporting players and moving to re-build their defensive line.

To exploit teams that are not so calm and collected, attacking support players must quickly assess how defenders are reacting and exploit the best opportunity presented to them. Assuming the full back or another solo defender has the ball carrier tracked, getting into an arrow shape – with supporting players to the left and right of the ball carrier – provides more options. The best support line / passing option will be to the supporting player who is less likely to be caught by arriving defenders.

Away from the covering defender:                            Toward the covering defender:
· able to run away from                                                 · defender over-read the play, cornerflagging
· screened by the ball carrier                                         · direction taken to wrong-foot the defender

Post Linebreak 1

When contact is inevitable, supporting players must then sort out who’s going to do what to secure possession and to make the best of the next phase. The sooner players take responsibility for the ruck, the sooner the next players to arrive can get into position.

If defenders have not yet arrived, a pop or pick and go from the tackle is the simplest option. In this scenario, the tackle is furthest away from arriving defenders. Passing outward would put the ball carrier closer to those arriving players, so it’s best to ‘funnel’ toward the tackle.

If defenders have converged on the breakdown, the best option is usually two quick passes away to get into open space. It is not only vital for attacking players to quickly get into the best position to exploit available space, they must also communicate this opportunity to players at the breakdown so the ball can move quickly. The breakdown is likely to be a chaotic area and especially with lesser-experienced players, they are not as likely to be scanning wider parts of the field to recognise the next best place to attack.