This is round number one of our 6 part series – an in-depth look at props in the game of Sevens with great video examples.
Round number one – an in-depth look at props in the game of Sevens with great video examples.
Sevens is a game that one can play in any position with reasonable success at the lower levels, but as you progress it becomes a lot more specialized.
What is required to play prop?
Generally a prop is one of the biggest players on the field, and possess great strength. Height is an important factor as well. A prop can be a flank, center or wing in XVs rugby. Obviously many of these statements are generalizations, but based on my experience in sevens.
The set pieces are key if you want to be a successful prop.
Kickoffs kicked: In sevens the team that scores kicks off the ball, which means the opposition has a chance to take possession. This set piece happens the most out of any other in the game, and hence is the most important. In sevens, ball position not territory, is key. Teams kick a variety of kickoffs depending on their goals.
If a team kicks to contest the ball this means the kicker will attempt to place a high handing ball that comes down near the 10m mark. The props will be the ones who time his/her run to meet the ball in the air. The most difficult part is colliding with the opposition forwards in this busy zone. The best players are able to either claim the ball cleanly in the air, and are then supported by the other prop and hooker as they land on the deck. Alternatively the prop can slap the ball in the air towards his teammates. In this situation communication must be present so that his/her hooker or scrum-half can retrieve that ball.
England’s Ben Gollings has perhaps one of the best kickoffs in the game, with his team able to retain so many restarts. But it is his prop Isoa Damu that can be credited with the restart success. Not only does Damu time his jump in the air so well, but his long arms are able to bat the ball back towards England’s side. Both Fiji and Samoa do this brilliantly as well.
If the kickoff is planned to go deep towards the opposition 22 meter, then the props hold their defensive line with the rest of the team. New Zealand often uses this tactic to great effect when the score in their games are close. What it does is force the opposition to run from near their own tryline. If they opt to kick they give away possession, and if an error is made, the Kiwis are right on attack.
Kickoffs received: Receiving a short kickoff is often very difficult as the prop is standing still, while his/her opposition is at full speed bearing down on them. This is where it is vital for the supporting prop to help his fellow prop as that ball is kicked off. By this I mean rucking to retain possession if the one prop has successfully caught the kickoff.If the kickoff is deep, then one of the props roles is to carry the ball up towards the wall of defenders. The goal is to run between two players, and thereby forcing both tacklers into the ruck.
Lineout’s: With the quick lineout rule it means teams can keep possession a lot easier than risk a regular lineout. However, a well-executed lineout provides a great attacking platform with the opposition defense being so far away.The props job here is to be dynamic when either lifting a teammate or jumping to receive the ball.
Scrums: This set piece if done well can also provide a solid attack. Both props are essential to a steady scrum. By keeping their backs straight and lowering their center of gravity they should be able to drive the opposition backwards. When putting the ball in, a straight north drive is important to ensure the scrumhalf gets the ball out as soon as possible to the flyhalf. Props can also twist the scrum west or east – depending on the tactics. If they wheel the scrum to one side, it can potentially allow their scrumhalf to burst down the blindside.
When scrumming on defense, the props should attempt to disrupt the opposition scrum as much as possible. This can be done after the referee has said ‘set’. The props decide to either pull their opposite numbers, thereby collapsing the scrum, or by driving north and hooking the oppositions ball.
Defense: The role of the prop on defense is to make those bone jarring tackles. One excellent tackle comes to mind – in which USA prop Todd Clever turned defense into offense with his huge hit. Watch video below:
The prop is often required to either break tackles or suck in defenders, setting up an attacking platform. By committing opposition numbers to a ruck, the team can shift the ball across the field exposing the shortage of defenders.
There are plenty of amazing props on the Sevens World Series, but one of my favourites is New Zealander DJ Forbes. It takes a minimum of two defenders to tackle him, and he puts in some massive hits of his own. South Africa’s Frankie Horne is their go-forward prop that does the same, while Fiji and Samoa are well known for having devastating props.
I found a quick clip of a bulldozing run by an aggressive Todd Clever, click here to see the prop breakout against Wales:
Are you a prop?
Props – like every other position – need to be extremely fit, especially due to the high amount of contact they are involved in. Speed of course is a huge plus, which helps if one has a strong wing that can fill in at prop. Saying that, having a flanker or center as your prop is also beneficial as they provide experience in winning rucks, and making excellent defensive tackles on big opposition players.
published by: RugbyIQ