Friday 6 December 2019

Coaches' corner THE LINEOUT

No area of the game has been transformed more by professionalism than the lineout. What was a decision of front, middle or back has become a tactical duel involving precise timing , choreographed movement and cryptic calling systems.

The time modern players and coaches spend on their own preparation and analysis of the opposition has meant teams have multiple lineout set-ups, with up to five jumping options in each.

Teams have a vast lineout playbook which is studied and practised before narrowing down the options to use against each team based on the profile of the opposition pack.

There are three main types of lineout:

Attack Space

Using the call before or in the lineout, the attacking team will call to throw to the space least defended.

Defending teams usually set up their jumpers and lifters (pods) in particular areas, leaving one part of the lineout unmarked (quite often the back).


This is a lineout where the speed of the jump and throw beat the opposition.

This is quite common with the jumper at the front of the lineout and can be very effective with short lineouts. It is very effective where the opposition is trying to wait and see where you are going to throw as by the time they can react and lift, your jumper has the ball.


Employing a movement lineout involves using pre-rehearsed movement of jumpers and/or lifters in an attempt to sell the defence unit a decoy or separate one of their jumpers from their lifter.

This can be very effective in combating a good defensive unit or if you want to move the defence out of the position you want to attack.

Formations of the lineout have also seen major changes with the tradition of lifter, jumper, lifter, jumper set-up giving way to what is know as the book-end full lineout.

This involves putting your props at the front and back, giving you five jumping options (Nos 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8) in your lineout.

We have touched on some of the aspects of modern lineout play here but it is merely the tip of the iceberg for what Pro12 or international teams are capable of.

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