The Scotland back-row’s top tips for winning the battle of the breakdown

Hamish Watson: How to win turnovers

Hamish Watson made his Scotland debut against Italy at Murrayfield in 2015 and has been capped more than 30 times for his country.

The openside is known for his turnover ability at breakdown, scavenging ball to create opportunities for his team or slowing it down to deny opponents chances of their own. Here he explains how you can do the same…

Right decisions

is huge. You’ve got a millisecond. It’s about knowing when to go for it and when not to.

“If you’ve been warned a few times and you’re close to your own line, then do you really need to risk it if it’s not a clear opportunity? Those actions can be massive.”

Be aware

“Stay low to the ground, so low that nobody can get underneath you. In your peripheral vision you have to see an opponent coming and rearrange your feet to deal with 
that threat.”

Stay strong

“It sounds obvious but speed to the ball is critical. Beating the attacker is paramount. Once you’re on the ball you have to dig in and stay strong because you know the big hits are coming and nowadays those hits or rolls or twists might not always be safe.

“There’s a lot of talk about that right now. I hope the jackal stays a part of the game. The momentum shift can be immense at times.”


Official line

“You have to know your referee. You have to establish a good relationship with him and talk to him at the breakdown. It’s important to listen to him and show him that you are listening to him. You have to understand what kind of ref you have. Homework is really important.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.