The Wasps and England lock offers tips on disrupting your opponents’ set-piece

Joe Launchbury: How to spoil opposition lineout ball

England lock Joe Launchbury made his Test debut against Fiji in 2012 and has gone on to win more than 60 caps and play in two World Cups.

Here he explains how to disrupt opposition lineout ball…

Numbers game

“Coming into the lineout, the most basic thing is to pick up the numbers early. Then pick up the formation they’re in. From the team they picked before the game, you’ll get a good understanding of their shape.

“Most sides operate with a primary jumping back-row, so put less attention on the other back-rows.”

Eye on nine

“If you pay more attention to the second-rows and jumping back-row, then you look at the ‘plus one’ – where the nine stands.

“If it’s a forward at nine it’s likely they’re going to drive, so you must talk about whether we have to get up and compete for the ball or we must stop the drive.”

First act

“After that, it’s about the cues I’m picking up. I’ll always go with the first movement of the opposition before the ball is thrown.

“Invariably that movement is heading roughly towards where the ball’s going to go, and if they dummy and go over me I’ll watch it. So if you run with that first movement and the hooker lets go of the ball, you are roughly in the right spot.”


At your fingertips

“It’s rare to get a double-handed steal in the lineout. A little fingertip tap might be enough and just putting pressure on them by jumping in front helps.

“You cannot risk going across or taking the ball out their hands now. If they catch it but it’s not clean, good job. Get some disruption and we might be able to pressure their nine.”

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

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

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