Rugby: Snap, Crackle, and POP - Touch Variation

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Heather, Rugby Coach


Split your players into two teams, giving one group of players a set of coloured bibs to set them apart, and quickly tell your players the following laws:

  • Keep the law briefing, brief!
  • Normal laws of rugby apply - in the case of a knock on etc. the ball will be turned over to the opposition.
  • When the ball carrier is touched, they must go to ground. The defender steps back and does not compete for the ball.
  • The defender that made the touch - cannot make the next touch!
  • The ball carrier on the groud must pop the ball to a supporting player, the pop pass should be quick - any delay can result in a turn over. Judge the speed at which the player has went to ground, how quickly the support has gotten there and how quickly the pass was made. Depending on the age and skill level of your player - make a decision on weather you allow the attack to continue or if the ball is lost and turned over.
  • The player receiving the pop has two options - they can take the pop at speed driving past the defender who made the original touch (remember they cannot make a second touch right away). Or - they can stop and pass the ball away from contact. If the supporting player stops to take the pop - the defence must allow that support player to make a pass away from the point of contact. The support player cannot run on.
  • The ball cannot be kicked.


You might decide to focus on a number of the following?

  • Player communication, it should be meaningful, encouraging, and effective.
  • There should be examples of good communication in both defense and attack.
  • Players should fall correctly, knee, hips, and shoulders.
  • Players on the ground should fall facing away from the defense, creating a narrow gate (do as you would in the real game).
  • The defense should use this as a chance to rehearse their defensive formation around a ruck; the downed player can be consider a ruck in this case.
  • The ball carrier should have support. There may be space following the touch, and the defender that touched the current ball carrier cannot make a second touch. In the game the tackler will possibly be on the groud - we can attack that space.
  • The support player should ideally be hitting the ball at speed, getting beyond the touch.
  • The attacking team should react to opportunities that have taken them beyond the defensive line, forcing the defense to turn around.
  • The ball carrier should be taking the ball to ground in two hands.
  • The quality of the pop should be weighted in terms of speed, direction, and timing.
  • Is the support runner communicating with the ball carrier e.g. support behind, down now, pop now.

Scoring Zones | Warm Up

Scoring Zones:

  • Be brief when telling the players the laws of this game, it's important to get them moving quickly.
  • This is not a contact game.
  • Break your players into two teams, giving each team their own colour of bibs if necessary.
  • One team goes to attack, and one to defense.
  • Nominate a Scrum Half for each team.
  • There is no kicking in this game.
  • Normal laws of rugby apply e.g. a forward pass will result in the ball being turned over to the opposition.
  • If an attacking player is touched: they must go to ground, present the ball, two of their teammates ruck over (staying over the ball), and the Scrum Half moves the ball for the next phase of attack.The defence must commit three players to every ruck, or risk an infringement which will see tem pushed back ten meters. The ball must be moved from the ruck within 5 seconds.
  • Make sure that the defense is employing your defensive pattern around the ruck. 
  • Throughout the game the coach call the point of attack e,g, attack RED ZONE or Zone 2.
  • The coach can also call the scoring zone, Score At Zone Yellow or Zone 3.
  • As the game progresses have the players call the point of attack, and the scoring zones - but they must do this early and they must committ to that attack for a period of time.
  • Have attacking players do what they normally would at the ruck.
  • Depending on your goals decide on the number of touches you wish to allow e.g. unlimited is not a bad option as mistakes will be made!
  • On a mistake or after a period of time, turn the ball over so that both teams get time in attack and defence.
  • Don't hesitate to shape the game to focus on your session goals, and let us and other coaches know what worked for you!

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