Rugby Union is a complex game and preparing tactics requires a thorough understanding of your team’s strengths and the side you are up against.

Using the power in your team and creating space are key and hints on tactics can be found at the world rugby site.

In recent years coaches have been developing the use of the pod, where a group of teammates attack an area of space on the pitch together confusing defences with a choice of the final ball carrier.

The Pod

The pod has emerged in recent years as an example of a tactic designed to suck in defenders and create overlaps. There are a number of variations involving both forwards and backs and repetition in training can make players familiar with their role. A series of rugby drills can be found online at sites such as Sportplan to help familiarise players with their jobs on the pitch.

A popular tactic involves a 1-3-3-1 formation involving two sets of three forwards each with a back in position behind the group. Similar to a rolling maul the backs make the calls and forwards use their strength. As defenders are attracted to the ball space is created out wide creating opportunities when one of the backs chooses to release the ball.

Another option arises when a ruck is created and the ball is slowed down. The scrum-half will position a pod of forwards beside the ruck and attack to one side to get over the gain line and create a quick ball for the backs unsettling the defence.

Attacking backs

Recently coaches have been looking at variations on the pod using attacking backs, usually the outside half and centres. Often described as two receivers, the number 10 stands in his usual position but the inside centre is the first receiver. The centres cut back in to attack while the 10 positions himself behind for a pull back or an offload if the centres are held up.

Variations of “the pod” in rugby

Finally, the flat line pod sees two or three runners targeting their opposite numbers in defence simultaneously with the scrum-half provided with options for his delivery and confusing the defence. The runners may be backs or forwards.

Coaches are constantly coming up with variations on the pod so look out for new moves in the World Cup in Japan.