IT’S VERY frustrating for a player to present the ball perfectly on the floor – only for an opponent to steal it before one of his own team-mates arrives on the scene.

There are two ways to avoid conceding cheap turnovers if a player does become isolated in contact. One is for the tackled player to buy time by staying on his feet. But a tactic which can be harder to defend – and which provides much quicker ball – is the jack-knife roll.

Instead of presenting the ball immediately, the tackled player actually rolls towards the opposition line, holding the ball tight to his chest and using his legs to drive the roll. As he rolls towards the player attempting to tackle him, he protects the ball between his body and the floor, before ending up facing his own team.

He then presents the ball, using core body strength to get himself into a long position, parallel to the touchline.

It’s only a few extra split-seconds yet it forces the tackler backwards, vastly reducing his chances of stealing the ball. It also buys precious time for a supporting player to get to the breakdown and safely ‘anchor’ over his team-mate, creating really quick ruck ball to maintain attacking momentum.

Step 1: The ball-carrier clutches the ball tight to his chest and rolls towards the opposition line

Step 2: The defender is forced onto the back foot as the ball-carrier completes his 360-degree roll

Step 3: The ball-carrier then uses his core body strength to jack-knife away from the defender

Step 4:  A long body position makes it much harder for opponents to contest the breakdown

This article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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