Trail Running – Licence to Roam


Ever wonder how Tommy Bowe takes the perfect line at the right time or Martyn Williams is always on a shoulder to get the try scoring pass? It because they spend the game getting in those positions but much of their work is unseen until they appear at the end of that vital off-load.

Trail running is where players take up positions behind the frontline attack with a view to being able to identify where the space opens and attack into it. In general it is wingers, coming from the blindside or back rows, coming from a previous ruck that are best positioned to take these lines.

What makes this ploy unstoppable is that the player is effectively reading where the defence has left a gap and reacts accordingly. By positioning behind the attack line and biding his time he can be adaptable to changing attack and defence lines.

Where is the Space?

As the front line attack draws defenders the trail runner can read where a space is being left and take a line inside or outside the ball carrier.

Where the ball carrier takes the ball into contact, if he attacks the defenders left the trailer should run support to the right to be in the ideal off-load position and vice-versa.


Trail Runner350In this exercise we have 3 attackers, 2 in front line and 1 in a trailing position, against 2 defenders.

On the Coaches call, the attackers should try breach the 2-man defence. There should be no restrictions on the lines of run of the attackers provided they go forward.

Key Coaching point is that the trail player does not pre-determine where he is going and should take a line based on seeing the defence.

Depending on how the defence approaches he can attack inside attacker 1, between attacker 1 & 2 or outside attacker 2.

Attacker 1 can also pass the ball early in which case the trail player reads the lines of attacker 2.


Making it a contact exercise will bring in the element of the off-load. The attackers can then decide to draw defenders and pass pre-contact or take on the tackle and look to the off-load to the trailer.

Tommy Bowe680


The Jes reach last four with last minute winner