Good attacking lineouts

The starting point for every good attacking lineout

By Paul Tyler, an SRU Level 3 Coach, and Joint Editor of Rugby Coach Weekly

Your own lineout is a key attacking platform in the game. However good your jumpers and tactics are, the throw is essential to success. And the starting point for this is a good set up by the hooker before the throw.

The focus

It is important that your hooker gets into a consistent pre-throw routine in the same way a goal kicker does. They need to:

  • Get their breathing settled.
  • Get the call communicated and understood.
  • Focus on where the target is going to be.

Less tension

The hooker needs to be relaxed as any tension in the body will affect the accuracy of the throw. Most poor lineout throws are due to the hooker not being mentally prepared before throwing. Being involved in open play and then having to set for a lineout throw is a difficult skill. Preparing to throw needs to be practised in training: Get your hooker to run a series of sprints, hit some bags or perform a similar exercise to get them out of breath. They then have one minute to set themselves and hit a target. Repeat this several times to build up their stamina, but primarily their ability to relax and settle quickly.

The grip

The back hand holds the ball near the end. The fingers are spread and the ball sits in the hand. The player shouldn't grip the ball too tightly. Many hookers have the seam of the ball in the palm of the hand but it is down to how individuals feel comfortable. The front hand rests at the front of the ball. It doesn't grip the ball and is simply a guide for the throw.

The stance

The feet are side by side with the toes just behind the touch line. The hips and shoulders are set square. The knees are slightly bent and the upper body leans back slightly away from the pitch.

throw in

The starting position

The body is still with the knees and back bent to give a "coiled spring" feel. The elbows are tucked in close to each other either side of the head. The ball is held directly behind the head. The head is up and the hooker focuses on the exact spot where the ball is to go. For young hookers the feet should be flat on the ground to give stability. As they develop and start to throw longer distances they can stand on the balls of their feet to give them more flex and therefore power.


The best attacking options from lineouts

By Jim Love, Head Coach of Italian Super 10 team Viadana, and CEO of the New Zealand Sports Academy (

It's vital you make best use of your possession of the ball. But without clear objectives, many lineouts end up with poor ball for the players to use.

Catch and drive

Our main purpose for a catch and drive is to create go forward from which we can develop plays. For instance, we will run off the maul and use offloads and quick rucks to tie in defenders, to create time and space for our backs to attack. We also use mauls to manipulate field position, such as when we want to create a larger blindside for our next attack. Setting up the catch and drive has changed over the years. These days, teams bring the ball down from the jumper to set up a maul before driving forward. We use what I call "points mauling". We constantly change our point of attack to make it more difficult for the opposition to defend against our maul.

Key points of a catch and drive maul

  • Maul to your objectives.
  • Create quick ball after the end of the maul with offloads or mini rucks.
  • Set the maul before the drive.
  • Attack through the maul by changing the points of attack.

The length of our attacking lineout

We use very few full lineouts for two key reasons:

  • They provide easy opportunities for interference.
  • The referee cannot easily see what is going on.

We use three, four and five man lineouts, each with the same mauling options I described above. We also attack around the front of the lineout (the front peel) or around the back (back peel).

Plays from the lineout

The lineout lends itself to using "pods" to develop plays. A pod is a designated group of players who take the ball and set up a position on the field. The group can also support an attack, leading to a line break or a quick ruck ball to exploit a disorganised defence. From shortened lineouts forwards can be set up behind the back line.

play from lineouts


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