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Keeping the ball

It’s very important in sevens rugby that your team is comfortable with the ball. This means that they are able to pass the ball through the team without getting themselves under pressure or loosing the ball. This is one of the most influential factors in helping to win a game. In sevens rugby it’s easier to attack then defend and by just keeping the ball will help you wear the opposition down and help your own team recover. The details below should help give you some tips on how to keep the ball in sevens with a couple of exercises on what to do in open play to ensure your players support each other and get into the right positions.

Start with your players in a line across the width of a pitch as they would in a sevens game. Start with the ball at one end getting your players to run forward with the ball before passing ensuring the ball is passed backwards. After the player with the ball has passed they should drop back following their pass so they are in a position for the receiving player to pass back to them. This also means that if the player receiving the ball gets tackled they are close enough to help ruck or wrestle for the ball to keep possession. It is the players responsibility who has passed the ball to protect the player receiving the ball. When the next player passes they in turn should drop back to support the player receiving the ball and so on as shown below in step 1. You might need to practice this a few times as it can be hard to get into the habit of jogging back after passing.

Once the team have mastered the pass and follow try and progress to the pull out. In it’s simplest form you pass the ball to the wing, the player inside the winger drops back behind the winger. This means the winger can pass the ball back to them if they're under pressure. The other players drop back to form a line to support the player inside the winger who has dropped back. This allows the winger to probe for a possible gap in the oppositions defense with the option of passing back to the player behind them and the ball can be moved along the line away from the oppositions pressure . Try running the drill a couple of times passing the ball backwards and forwards along the line to perfect this technique.

The next stage of this is to add a player running a hard line. This is particularly useful if the opposition are in your line preventing a pass. Or to ensure the opposition don’t start creeping into your line. When you pass the ball to the wing the first player inside should drop back for the pull out pass. The second player inside should run a line for the wing to pop him the ball as shown in step 1 and 2 below. The player passing him the ball should follow the run providing support if the player needs to pass back or to win the tackle area. The wing doesn’t need to pass to the player on the crash as using this as a dummy run can also open wholes in the oppositions defense. Again the rest of the team should line up from the player on the pull out reacting quickly to any break through of the oppositions defense.

Stage 1. The ball moves along the line with players following their pass. Each players works hard to get behind the player they passed to so they're in a position to receive the ball back or support the player they passed to if they take contact.

Stage 2. The ball continues along the line. The winger takes the ball forward and wide using their footwork, the player to their inside moves behind them and the player inside them runs a hard line to support the winger. 
Stage 3. The winger passes to the player behind to move the ball back along the line, or if the opposition are pressing up in the line the winger hits the player on the hard line to punch though the oppositions.