The England wing gives his top tips for playing off kicks

Jonny May: How to counter-attack

Jonny May averages a try every two Tests for England, with 29 in his first 56 Internationals. Here the wing explains how to counter-attack from kicks…

Assess the kick

“When the ball is in the air you get a sense: Is it bad? Is it long? Who’s with you? Where are you on the pitch? You’re scanning.

“If a kick goes over your head and nobody is with you, 
it’s probably not right to run. 
If you catch it going forward with a couple of people outside you, run.”


“If you’re steaming onto the ball, wherever you are, you may just think, ‘This is my time to run it’. If you caught the ball on the back foot, you probably shift it on to someone else.

“You need a communication link. And then, once you pass, aim to give them more information.”

Find the space

“If the space is back down the channel the kick came from, there’s probably a route to that corner. If the gap is down the middle, there is no time to hesitate.

“I won’t try to turn defenders inside out – you can overdo the stepping. You have to run for where the space is.”


Back yourself

“If someone is in front of you and you decide there’s an opportunity on the outside, try to square them up and be in a position where you can go both ways. And when you feel like going for it, don’t hesitate.

“There’s no shame if they make a great tackle, but you can either beat them or they over-chase and you present the ball back on the inside. When you decide to go, transfer the ball to your outside arm.”

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

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

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