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Rugby Union Skills

Johnny Wilkinson receives Matt Dawson's pass and slots the winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final

Photo: Getty Images

Positional skills are very important in rugby, for example, a prop will need to be able to do a lot of things that a winger won’t, and vice versa. However, whatever number a player wears on the back of their shirt, they’ll need to be proficient at the basics of tackling, handling and kicking.

England’s last-minute win in the 2003 Rugby World Cup was a supreme example of how getting the simple skills right can bring huge rewards, as the whole team did their bit to set Jonny Wilkinson up for his winning drop goal:

Martin Johnson and his forwards took the ball into crunching contact to secure field position, possession and territory; scrum half Matt Dawson put an uncomplicated and pinpoint pass to the waiting Wilkinson; before the fly half calmly slotted the clinching drop goal.

The basics were perfectly illustrated and new players should master these as they learn the game. The information in these pages provides an introduction to the key skills of handling, tackling and kicking, as well as detailing the different skills players in different positions need to master.


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