Sunday, 15 May 2011

Passing from hand

Passing the rugby ball from one player to another by hand is a fundamental skill in rugby union. No matter if the player is the biggest forward on the pitch or the smallest back at some stage in their playing career, they will be required to pass the ball from hand, to another player on their team. In rugby union the playing of a forward pass from hand is not allowed. A forward pass means playing a pass from hand that goes closer to the oppositions try line than from where the pass was given.The exception is when the player plays a legitimate pass but when it hits the ground it goes forward. This is not deemed a forward pass. If the referee deems a player plays a forward pass it results in a scrum to the opposing team.

A player chooses to pass the ball for a number of reasons. The ball-carrying options in front of them might be blocked, they may have become isolated, they may see a gap available for another player or it might be part of a rehearsed move looking to unlocked the oppositions defence. There are a few different types of passing from the hand, below is a list of the main ones.

Lob Pass
A lob pass is given when the player passing the ball only wants it to go a short distance to one of his team-mates. It is the pass of choice when play is happening among the forwards close to the ruck. If this pass was to be performed in open field there would be a high chance of the other team intercepting the ball.  

Spiral Pass 
Similar to the spiral pass in American Football, the spiral pass in rugby makes the ball go straighter and faster from the player passing the ball to the receiver of the pass. This pass is preformed mainly when the player receiving the ball is a good distance away from the player giving the pass.

Lateral Pass
A lateral or flat pass is a pass that is brings the receiver right up to the gain-line. It is not a forward or backwards pass but one that is parallel with the try-line. It is usually a spiral pass and is given when the receiver spots a gap in the oppositions defence to go through. 

Skip Pass
The skip pass is performed when a player wants to skip the nearest receiver and pass to a team-mate further in open-field. This is done by giving a flat spiral pass beyond the reach of the nearest receiver to a player further away. This pass is performed when the player nearest the ball-carrier is not the best option to receive the ball. There however is a greater risk that a skipped pass will be intercepted as its in the air for a longer period than a pass to the nearest receiver.

Offloading in the tackle
An offload is undertaken when the ball-carrier is in the process of being tackled. They give a pass to a team-mate to keep the ball moving and the team going forward. It also prevents the other team competing for the ball at ruck time.

Reverse/Switch pass
The reverse pass is given when the ball-carrier wants to pass it to a player who is running at an angel that is opposite to the direction the play is going, reversing the direction the team is attacking from. Example if the team was attacking by passing the ball right, the ball carrier would pass the ball to a receiver running left.

Flip Pass
A flip pass is performed pass the ball in one hand in a flipping motion. It can be done to surprise the defence or to speed up the process of passing the ball to a player in close proximity. The picture below is an example of a flip pass just about to be executed. 

To learn more about the rules and gameplay rugby union, click one of the links below:

Ruby Union Gameplay and Rules

Rugby Union Videos