The England Women’s captain gives her tips for dictating play at the back of the scrum

Sarah Hunter: How to control the ball at No 8

World Cup winner in 2014, World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2016, a Test centurion… Sarah Hunter has a wealth of experience in the game. One skill the England No 8 particularly excels at is controlling the ball at the base of the scrum and here she explains how you can do it to…

Stay involved

“Generally you want to stay in the scrummage. If you have 
to go digging, you’re not adding weight, and that means it’s seven versus eight and it’s hard to get good ball.”

Keep watch

“The key at No 8 is watching the ball – as soon as you lose sight of the ball, it ends up ten metres behind you! So track the ball from when the nine puts it in to which channel it comes down. And don’t rush anything – take your time
 to make a decision.”

Decision time

“There will be a call before a scrum but sometimes things can change, so you have to adapt. If you’re under any pressure, the backs won’t want the ball; you can’t give them ball off a retreating scrum, so you need to try to get front-foot ball with a pick-and-go.”


Practise footwork

“If you have dominance near the line, you need to control the ball as you go for a pushover. It’s important to feel comfortable with the ball on both your left and right foot and we do a drill around the posts. You can bind to a post in a similar position to a scrum and then work your feet – practising with left and right – as you move around it with the ball.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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

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