by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
Recently I received a question from the father of a high school flyhalf. The dad offered that although he had never played rugby, he quickly fell in love with the game but could not answer a question from his son as concisely as he wanted to. The question was regarding where his son, the flyhalf, should stand during secondary phases or what sometimes referred to as “open play”.
Knowing what depth to stand at, when running, passing, or kicking the ball is a lesson that all number 10’s should learn if they are going to properly direct and launch the next phase of rugby. Ideally, a flyhalf possess the skills and athleticism to be a multiple threat, meaning equal competency in running, passing, and kicking the ball. Beginning at the correct depth is vital, and understanding when to start the decision-making process of where to position to is the key to the decision-making framework.
The time to begin positioning oneself during secondary phases begins sooner than many players appreciate. The best players begin to position themselves at least a half of a phase of rugby in advance of the previous phase. The key indicators that our playmaker evaluates are whether the previous phase has created penetration, is there immediate support on scene, have we created momentum, and what is our field position? Based on these factors, our flyhalf can then decide whether to run another construction phase or execute a finishing phase of rugby. The flyhalf stands at medium depth for the construction phase and runs from depth onto the ball in the finishing phase. If the previous phase did not create penetration, or was poorly supported but possession retained, the flyhalf positions in the pocket so to safely kick the ball.
Let’s consider a few examples; There is an attacking scrum on the left hand side of the field in the opposition’s half of the field. Our scrum is square and solid. Eight breaks to the right and beats the openside flanker away from the scrum. The first defender to make contact with the number eight is the defending flyhalf. There is immediate support provided by the attacking backrow and one of the midfield attackers, so the ball is on its way to being recycled quickly behind a majority of the defense. With these key pieces of data and acknowledging the position on the field of the possession, our flyhalf positions to be running from depth onto the ball as he launching the next phase of the attack in a finishing phase.
Alternatively, consider this scenario; there is an attacking lineout on the right hand touchline, deep in our end of the field. The forwards execute the lift, jump, and throw and secure the attacking possession. Our forwards have tried unsuccessfully to drive the ball, and the driving maul has gone to ground after only a few meters. The flyhalf has acknowledged that there has been no penetration achieved, and, coupled with our position on the field, has slotted into the pocket, preparing to kick the ball to touch.
Of course a team’s pattern of play will help in establishing when the flyhalf runs, passes, or kicks the ball, but regardless of which skill he executes, being positioned at the correct depth with provide the best opportunity to be successful.
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand (Bay of Plenty), the U.S. (The Old Blues), England (London Harlequins), and Wales (Pontypridd) for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The Barbarians are one of the top invitational rugby sides with a long history and classic rugby jersey.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Lions get ready for their matches with this green training jersey. It's what the players wear. Get in the Gear!
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.