Leicester and England scrum-half Ben Youngs explains how to fool opponents with sleight of hand

England scored three tries from Ben Youngs dummies in the autumn Tests of 2016 – one against Australia that the No 9 scored himself and two against South Africa, which George Ford and Owen Farrell finished off. Here he explains when it’s the right time to throw a dummy and how to trick opponents with sleight of hand…


“First of all, it’s all about how quick the ruck is and whether you’re on the front foot. How quickly has the ball come back out of the ruck? Was the ruck created because of a good carry? If it’s a yes to both, then it’s a good option to run.”


Breakdown check: Where are the defenders and support players? Photo: Getty Images


“As you approach the breakdown you should look to see where the defenders are and who’s in front of you. Forwards or backs? Are the defenders tight or is the spacing wide? If they’re wide, it’s a good cue because there should be some holes.”

Ben Youngs

Round the corner: Ben Youngs starts to run in an arc. Photo: Getty Images


“Once you pick up the ball, run laterally, almost in an arc, to get outside the first defender. As you get closer to the second defender, your body shape should be square so you can see all the options. It’s key to square up to the second defender.”

Israel Folau

Body language: Israel Folau looks for his support players. Photo: Getty Images


“You want to get on the inside shoulder of the second defender. Your head should be looking at ball-carriers nearby – the No 10 or a forward running short. Keep the ball close to your hip and move it across your body, so they think you’re going to pass.”

Leicester Tigers

Run hard: Support runners must be convincing, like Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi here. Photo: Getty Images


“If you’re on your own and throw a dummy, you’re not fooling anyone. So make sure there are runners around you – and they need to be genuine options. They play a key role – running a hard line to convince defenders that they’re a genuine threat.”

Ben Youngs

Mind the gap: Ben Youngs fools Australia’s defence to score. Photo: Getty Images


“As soon as the defender’s head turns, eyes and shoulders looking at the player outside, pull the ball back before he figures it out and fly forward into the space. If he stays fixed on you then pass, because there should be a hole for someone outside.”


  • Drills-wise, play two-on-two to practise getting outside the first defender. If the second defender turns in, then put the pass out wide; if he stays wide, try the dummy.
  • Keep the ball close to your hip so if you don’t throw the dummy, you’re still in a position to pass.
    Ben Youngs
  • Be patient – you can’t pre-empt a dummy. It just comes with space. You have to wait for the option, rather than go looking for it and make a poor decision. Sometimes you’ll go a whole game without an option coming along and you have to wait for the next game.
  • The people running on the outside have to be committed and convincing.

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Rugby World magazine. For the latest subscription offers, click here.