The South Africa assistant coach explains decision-making for 15s

Felix Jones: How to Read the game from full-back

The former Munster 15 is an assistant coach who helped the Springboks on their way to Rugby World Cup glory in Japan, in 2019. Here are his top tips for analysing the game in front of you from the full-back position…

Be aware

“In defence, communication with the front line is important. In attack, you need to know the system. Most teams will have a 15 who can pop in and out, counter-attack or change direction freely. But it’s about anticipating the picture a phase ahead – seeing a forward has momentum on a carry and thinking 15 seconds ahead and seeing the likelihood of you striking on to the ball.”

Put in study

“I used to have a few one-on-ones with coach Rob Penney when he was at Munster. He would play 20 seconds of footage, then he’d stop the clip. He would ask me where the ball was going to end up and in what context.”

Felix Jones: How to Read the game from full-back

Cutting loose: Jones at 15 for Munster (Getty Images)

Read cues

“Dropping back for a kick, it’s about reading the cues of players in front of you and knowing who the kickers are. It’s analysis. It’s knowing they never kick off nine, so you have a bit of time, or nine kicks when they lose momentum. You have to work with wingers or in your system. It’s hard to get footage of the backfield but some leave two or three players back, some just one – who has to be more central.”


Be reflective

“You can work on anticipating pictures but for it to really set in your brain, be reflective. So on the training paddock try something, and use footage to review. If not, think: ‘I got smashed because I took the ball too flat. Why? Because I didn’t work back hard enough or there wasn’t as much momentum as I anticipated.’ But you can also think about it in a walk-through or sitting in your living room.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

Every month Rugby World features advice from professional players and coaches on specific skills.

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