Scrum Half Tips

Written by martyn wood
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Scrum Half Tips
England scrum half Ben Youngs passes the ball following a ruck. (Stu Forster/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

In rugby union the scrum half is typically one of the smallest players on the field. Scrum halves have the best handling skills in the team and are responsible for feeding the ball won by the forwards to the backs. Scrum halves are often more physical and aggressive than fly halves because they go up against the opposition's forwards more frequently. The scrum half wears the number 9 shirt.

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As the scrum half, you are responsible for distributing the ball to the backs from the base of the scrum, ruck or maul. Your ability to pass the ball is crucial to your team's hopes of success, and having good technique will improve your chances of making a good pass. The first rule of passing is to aim for your player rather than right at him. Hold the ball in both hands with your fingers across the seam and your chest facing forward. Locate your target and bring the ball back across one hip, while keeping your elbows slightly bent as you turn away from your target. Starting from your hip, swing your hands through an arc and keep your elbows tight to your body as you release the ball with a flick of the wrist and fingers. Finish off with your fingers and chest pointing in the direction of your target.

Punt Kicking

Punting is an important part of both attack and defence, and a key part of playing scrum half. For distance kicks, hold the ball at a 35-degree angle. Players who kick with their right foot should have their left hand near the front of the ball and their right hand near the back with the ball tilted angled toward the left. The exact opposite applies for players who kick with their left foot. As you step forward, plant your non-kicking foot to create a solid base. Drop the ball onto your kicking foot, hitting the ball with your laces and toe pointing downward. Follow through with your kicking foot to complete the action.


A scrum half must be confident and have an ability to read the game and act accordingly. The best scrum halves have good decision-making skills and keep the opposition on their toes at all times. Scrum halves who repeatedly pass the ball directly to the backs don't offer much offer of a threat, which allows the opposition to the key in on the fly-half and inside backs. Scrum halves should have the ability to make the opposition think twice and be able to make breaks when the opportunity presents itself.


The dummy is one of three moves used to evade opposition tacklers. The purpose of the dummy is to trick your opponent into thinking you will pass the ball to your teammate. As you run toward the defender, hold the ball in both hands and motion as if you are going to unload the ball. But rather than passing the ball, drop your shoulders at the last moment and hit the brakes. With the defender anticipating a pass to your teammate, bring the ball into your chest, accelerate off the leg you were pretending to pass across and sprint into the open space.

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