The Scarlets and Wales centre gives his top tips for ripping possession in the tackle

How to strip the ball – by Scott Williams

Ripping the ball from an opponent’s grasp has become more prevalent in recent years as it can be great ball to counter-attack from.

Scott Williams famously stripped the ball from England forward Courtney Lawes to score a try for Wales at Twickenham in 2012 and he offers his top tips on the tactic.

Second in

“When I’m going to strip the ball, I’ll be the second tackler. If I’m the only defender, I want to be making the tackle and not worrying about the strip. If a tackler went low, I’d go high and attack the ball.

“Usually if I’m with a forward, I know they will tackle low so I can go for the strip. You will only get a split-second to make that decision. Once you start to pull at the ball the carrier will tighten his grip, so you want to catch them unaware.”

Rip up

“It’s hard to strip the ball if the carrier is moving forward. If your co-tackler has won the collision, you can get your shoulder into the carrier’s chest. That will separate the carrier from the ball and the strip becomes easier. I like to rip the ball upwards; you need to do it aggressively.”

Next move

“When you have won the ball, you want to move it to someone who has better vision than you. We usually work on moving the ball two passes away from the turnover. That moves the ball away from the contact area and gives us space to attack.

“In some situations, the ball will go backwards on the ground when you strip it. In that case you just need to scramble back and make sure your team keep hold of the ball.”

Skill drill

“Shaun Edwards put a big focus on ripping the ball. We would practise one-on-one and you would be ripping up and down. You can’t really set these situations up in live games, so we would practise the skill and then in the game it’s a case of picking your moment and executing that skill.”

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s December 2021 edition.

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