When a defending team wins a turnover, it’s vital that they use the ball quickly. The team that was just on attack are likely to be disorganised and there is just a short window to exploit this before they take up defensive positions. The options are:

Pass quickly to players in open space (often at least two passes). When looking for any space where there is a clear gap, the most obvious will be where the opposition backs were previously sat deep. Quick passes can catch them out before they have time to get flat.


Pick and carry forward, quickly move away. Sometimes the best space to attack is straight ahead, but the opposition will quickly close down on these players, so support must get wide and call for the ball.

Pop to a player wrapping around. If there is no room to carry forward and no one to pass to, a player running from one side of the breakdown to the other can gain momentum to carry forward, if not actually find a hole.

Pass deep to wing / full back coming from depth. With no go-forward or passing options, a player coming from deep can initiate the attack while teammates drop back to provide options.

Box kick for a chaser. While a kick does not guarantee possession, and a turnover is a precious chance to start an attack in an advantageous position, there may be times when a chaser has a clear chance to score from a well-placed kick. Recognising that no other opportunities are on and clear communication is vital to make this a worthwhile option.


Punt deep behind opposition. When the kick is a possibility – or the necessary option to prevent giving the ball back to the team that just lost it – a deep kick will buy more time for teammates to get into position. This one in particular shows how important it is to cover back quickly as a defender, and not give up the chase when attacking.