Rugby: Pop, roll, down, up and gut

Your tips and session ideas have really brought some interest back...
Eifion, Rugby Coach


  • Tell your players the following......
  1. The ball carrier will run/carry the ball directly across the grid, offloading it to the player opposite.
  2. The offload will be different, depending on the coaches call - so you need to listen.
  3. There will be traffic in the center of the grid, so avoid it.
  4. Ok - lets get moving, the first call is to pop to the receiver - the pop should be legal!
  • Calls include: POP THE BALL, ROLL THE BALL, SET IT DOWN, THROW IT UP, GUT PASS (not too hard).


Don't feel that you have to focus on all of the following coaching points, you may have your own. Select the points that most closely match your overall training and session goals.

  • The tempo of this exercise must be high, but that tempo is restricted by the abilities of your players - it is important that they experience success.
  • Ball carriers work at a speed they are initially comfortable with, building more in more speed and faster decision making as they go - while retaining passing quality.
  • Passes/pops from the carrier and the static players are weighted correctly in terms of speed, distance, and accuracy. Spin passes are not used when they do not need to be.
  • The ball carrier uses effective, efficient, and encouraging communication to ensure that they receive the ball when they want it.
  • Players use good communication to encourage the runner - also helping with the timing and origin of the pass.
  • Mistakes happen, if we can help players by not having them over-think or get stressed - then we can cut the number of mistakes. Giving players the freedom to make mistakes can actually reduce the number of mistakes and gives players the freedom to enjoy their game and training - while being creative.
  • Ball carriers respond to the coaches call quickly.
  • Receivers present targets and have their hands up, ready to catch.
  • Receivers could clap their hands to present a visual and audible target.
  • Pop passes have enough air time and are not spinning.
  • Sets are within 1 meter of the picker.
  • Rolls are gathered by stepping over the ball, turning the body away from the direction of the attack, sweeping the ball up - in order to minimize the potential of a knock on. Players will have to judge the speed and direction of the roll.
  • Gut passes are not so hard that they hurt or slow down the attack.
  • High passes test the receiver, they may run onto them.
  • Players remain up on the balls of their feet in order to avoid traffic.
  • Ball carriers roll, spin, uses changes in foot-speed, and sidestep in order to avoid traffic.

    • Make the grid smaller, forcing the players to avoid greater traffic while still providing good quality ball.
    • Place poles into the grid to create even more traffic.



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