How to Do a Rugby Switch Pass
Here is what you need to do...
During a switch the ball carrier runs a hard angle (about 45 degrees) towards the defenders outside shoulder. The next attacker in the passing line runs an angle in the opposite direction of the ball carrier keeping a few steps behind. When the two attackers' cross paths the ball carrier (who is a few steps in front of his support player) turns to his inside and pops the ball in the air so his support player can run on to it at pace. If the switch is successful a defender will be committed to either the ball carrier or the support runner and which ever attacker is not being covered will be able to run the ball through a gap.
For those just starting out in rugby there are several simple drills that can be run to perfect the timing and spacing of a switch. The most basic drill is done by setting up a cone grid about 10mx10m. For the sake of explanation we will label the corners of the square ABCD respectively with cone x in the middle of the square. Players will form two lines, one behind cone A and one behind cone B. The grid will look as follows: A----------B | | | | | x | | | | | C----------D
The player on cone A will start with the ball and run a 45 degree angle toward cone D. The player in line B will wait until player A has taken about 2 steps and then run a 45 degree angle toward cone C.
When player A has just passed cone x and player B is just behind cone x, player A will turn his shoulders to the inside* and pop the ball in the air so that it is floating momentarily above cone x so that player B can catch the ball without having to slow down. *A note on turning shoulders to the inside- if the angle player A is running is to the left like he would be in the grid he will turn his shoulders to the left when he gives the pass. Likewise, if the angle being run is to the right the ball carrier will turn his shoulders right.
The drill should be run with the ball starting in both lines A and B so that the switch can be learned running both directions.
Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.
More notes on the switch -The ball carrier should run with the ball in two hands out in front of him. As soon as the ball is tucked a defender will know that the ball carrier is no longer planning on passing. -Support player should keep his depth and constantly be communicating with the ball carrier to let him know what the defender is doing. -Novice players often turn there shoulders the wrong way when giving the switch (i.e. turning and passing to the right while running an angle to the left). This not only allows the defense to clearly see the ball but also puts the ball carrier at risk of getting tackled with poor body position.
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The switch pass in rugby is the most basic open field play other than a simple passing line. A well executed switch is used to disorient the defense and create space for attacking players to run through.