How To Throw A Great Rugby Pass

Throwing a great pass can carve up a defense unlike any other facet of the game in rugby. A well-timed, well-placed ball puts a defense under enormous pressure and causes fractures in the defensive line. As long as the ball is placed accurately, on time, and in a position that the receiver can catch the ball on the move without breaking stride, it doesn't matter what it looks like. Heck, if we're looking at football, think of Peyton Manning's passes. One of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game rarely threw a spiral, but he did tick the boxes of accurate, on time, and in stride. 

Put the ball out in front

First of all, he or she needs to be able to catch the ball in a position that makes it easiest to get the ball loaded into triple threat position (pass, kick, carry). If the receiver has to reach down or up or sideways to catch the pass, it will take them a while to reload into triple threat. In rugby there is very little time to work with before the defense is on you, so every millisecond is massive. 

Secondly, the whole flow of the passing line works best when everyone is in sync. If the ball is thrown behind the receiver, the rest of the line gets thrown off because they all have to adjust for the bad pass so that they don't end up in front of the ball and in an offside position. This causes the line to slow down and lose momentum, as well as causing certain players to be moving at different speeds and the whole rhythm gets thrown off. 

Thirdly, you want to put the ball out in front so that the receiver can hit on to it with some pace. For a defense, a flat-footed attack is far easier to defend than one that is coming at you with speed. When players attack with speed it forces the defender to respect the ball carrier, because if he or she doesn't the runner will blast right through. This squares up the defense and opens up holes across the line when defenders get sucked in. 

Transfer the ball quickly

Rugby defenses can close space in an instant, so wasting time between catching and passing is something an attack needs to avoid when shifting the ball. Try to catch the ball as you would load it to pass, and see if you can avoid the "catch", "reload", "fire" method. Many of us will catch the pass, then dip the ball down or start swinging it to give it some momentum. This takes too long and will result in a hospital pass. 

Try to catch the ball and then pass the ball from the same height with which you caught it, as if the ball were on one tight string. The amount of time you waste reloading the ball can be the difference between scoring in the corner and getting tackled out of bounds a meter short. 

Stay straight and stay tall

This is probably the hardest part of passing, but it is something that can give you an invaluable skill on the field. Staying square on your pass and not "drifting" sideways is extremely important. By running sideways, you immediately make it much easier for the defender to defend you. With his or her momentum already going in that direction, your pass to the next guy or girl won't force the defender to change direction or momentum. They are effectively able to guard both of you. 

Now, if you stay straight and square up the defender, he or she has to pick: Do I go with the pass and try and get to the receiver, or do I hold my ground and stay on the player with the ball? This is what you want as an attack -- to keep the defense guessing. If they suck in and stay on you, you'll shift the ball to your teammate and he or she will have space and time to work with. If they leave early and try and get across to defend your teammate, you throw the dummy pass and go through the hole. 

However, to effectively throw the dummy or really commit your defender, try your best to stay tall on the pass, as you do when sprinting. By ducking down and crouching over, you lose speed and thus the dummy pass won't be as effective because the covering defense will get to you. For an example of how to stay tall, watch Beauden Barrett operate. He's always a threat to run or to pass and it makes life extremely difficult for the defense.

Date Set For New Zealand's North vs South Island Battle

For the first time since the mid 1980's, New Zealand is set to reintroduce the famous North vs South Island match on August 29th, pitting players from each of the two parts of New Zealand against one another to settle where the best rugby players in the country truly come from. 

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MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: Colorado Raptors

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

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Could New Zealand Be Hosting The Entire 2020 Rugby Championship?

With much of the world shut down still thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, rumors are swirling that New Zealand could be home to the entire 2020 Rugby Championship. The past three weeks have seen the beginning of the Super Rugby Aotearoa, a competition involving just the four New Zealand Super Rugby franchises. 

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MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: Austin Gilgronis

The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

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Round 3: Super Rugby Aotearoa Team of the Week

Round 3 of Super Rugby Aotearoa was the most competitive one yet, and as such there is a fairly even distribution of players from all four teams on the team of the week. 

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Rees' Pieces Vol. 6: Is There Too Much Emphasis On Test Rugby?

My name is Alex Rees and  I am introducing a new FloRugby column titled "Rees' Pieces". I currently play rugby in Austin, Texas for the Austin Huns and the Austin Gilgronis, as well as write and create content for FloSports. 

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10 Monday Notes: A Pair Of Super Rugby Aotearoa Nailbiters

Round 3 of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season provided the most competitive weekend of rugby we've seen since rugby ended back in March. The Chiefs were close to pulling off an upset over the Crusaders in Christchurch, while the Highlanders were just inches from knocking off the Blues. 

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Senior Club Member Unions Elect Council Executive Committee

GLENDALE, CO – Elected members of the USA Rugby Senior Club Executive Committee were announced today after a vote by the Senior Club Council, comprised of representatives from the 19 Member Unions across the country. As part of the governance reorganization, this Executive Committee including officers and committee chairs will represent and administer the Senior Club community across USA Rugby membership. These elections are in line with the newly developed Terms of Reference, where Union representatives collaborated to determine what the Council committee structure will be, along with roles and responsibilities. The Executive Committee consists of nine representatives; five standing committee chairs and four officers. The standing committees will facilitate certain elements of the Senior Club game including Eligibility, Discipline, Competitions, Training & Development and finally Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The Officers include the council Chair and Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.  The Senior Club Representative to the USA Rugby Board of Directors is an ex-officio member. Next steps for the Senior Club Council will be selecting representatives to the USA Rugby Board and its committees, followed by negotiation with the USA Rugby National Office on supportive services through a Community Service Agreement.

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IT'S HEATING UP: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 3 Preview

After two rounds, the Blues, the Highlanders, and the Crusaders remain unbeaten, while the Chiefs and the Hurricanes stay winless. The Blues have been the most impressive side thus far, ringing in two double-digit victories over the Hurricanes and the Chiefs, while the Highlanders picked up a last-gasp win against the Chiefs in Round 1 before getting a bye in Round 2. The Crusaders were off in Week 1 but came out firing in Round 2 against the Hurricanes to win their one contest of the campaign. 

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7 Rugby Terms You May Not Be Familiar With

The sport of rugby features members and participants from every corner of the world, so naturally you will hear various bits of lingo around the game. If you're new and learning about the sport, one of the best things to do is watch rugby and listen to the commentators, who will explain what is going on and why.