The back-row talks through the latching process that is so effective for Exeter Chiefs

Dave Ewers: How to master the latch

Exeter Chiefs players often latch onto one another when carrying into contact to make it harder for the opposition to defend against. Here back-row Dave Ewers explains how it works…


“We’d mainly use the latch when attacking in the 22. If the defence is set and there’s a brick wall against us, we’re likely to use it then and I’ll talk to the ball-carrier to say we should set for a latch. If defensively there are holes and it’s fragmented, it might be better for the ball-carrier to pass or look for a gap.”


“I try to grip under the armpit with one hand and on the shoulder with my other. If you don’t have a firm grip, once you make contact you’re going to fall. I use my upper body to get a firm grip and my lower body to get the leg drive. You need the ball-carrier to fight to stay on their feet, too; if they hit contact with no leg drive, by the time 
I get there they’re off their feet.”


“It’s important to know how your team-mates prefer to go into contact. Don Armand, for example, has a strong upper body so tends to go in a bit higher. When I carry, I don’t want someone latching before contact. That’s what I try to do as a latcher, too: allow the ball-carrier to do his thing and commit to contact, then I’ll try to add momentum by latching on.”



“In terms of body position, I generally try to stay behind the ball-carrier as much as I can so all the force is going one way. As well as being a bigger target for the opposition to tackle, it’s about having that force. If you’re by the side of them you can slide up too far and go in front of the ball-carrier, which is a penalty.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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