15 – Full Back

serge blanco full backA good full back in rugby will be an excellent play-maker with a huge boot and pace to spare. Full backs should feel more than comfortable filling in at fly half or on the wing should their team requite it. The full back is both the last line of defence and a key point of attack in their team so must be equally comfortable running with ball in hand or making last ditch tackles. It is often common for aspiring fly halves to learn their trade at full back where they must put to use all of the kicking, passing and running skills necessary to make it as a top 10.

The full back will usually be of a very similar build to wingers – tall and slim but with plenty of lean muscle power. This allows them to be quick across the field whilst also being able to make big last ditch challenges and also leap into the air to compete for high balls. As the full back covers the very last line of defence of their team and holds back when the opposition have the ball in their own half the full back is likely to find them-self bombarded with aerial balls and must be comfortable leaping up and competing for the ball when opposition defenders are charging them down.

It is also essential for a full back to be comfortable kicking the ball from deep so as to clear their lines when they may not have support from other members of their team.

Build

The build of a full back is usually very similar to that of a full back. Unlike on the wing were you occasionally find giants, full backs are generally all of a similar size. They should be relatively tall and athletic with a muscular physique and low body fat composition as they will be required to do a lot of running in both defence and attack. Full backs should ideally be over 6 feet in order to help them claim high balls, or alternatively be able to leap high into the air to compensate.

In The Loose

Although the full back may at first appear to be on the peripheries of their team, they will be heavily involved in the game and will have their hands on the ball more than a lot of other members of their team. They must therefore feel comfortable having their hands on the ball in any situation whilst also being capable of effectively reading the play.

The full back will usually be the last line of defence in their team ready to make cover tackles or collect kicks over the top. The sweeper role performed by the full back is particularly important when the opposition have the ball in their own half. In this situation the full back will hang back in their own half down the middle ready to collect any balls kicked over the top. The full back must then decide whether to run the ball back or to kick it to gain territory. Should the full back kick the ball they need to be prepared to chase it up the field in order to play the rest of their team onside.

Should their team be pinned back in their own half the full back may provide a kicking option to help get their team out of trouble. The full back may also act as a first receiver should the fly half be out of position where they may opt to run, pass or kick the ball depending on the openings they can see ahead of them.

The full back should also offer a key attacking threat for their team through either running the ball, providing support for another runner or chasing down kicks. As one of the fastest players on the pitch full back’s will often find themselves in key attacking positions ready to collect the ball and attempt to run it around the opposition like a winger might.

In The Scrum

A full back is not involved in the scrum in anyway but must line up ready to attack or defend dependant on which side the ball comes out. The full back will usually drop into their teams attacking line when their team have the put in but may drop back if the opposition have the put in ready to collect any balls kicked over the top.

In The Line Out

The full backs role during a line out is very similar to in a line out where during an attacking line out the full back merges into the attacking line. In defence however they may drop further back in order to play the sweeper role in order to collect any balls over the top.

In A Maul

During a maul the full back will again either step into the attacking line or drop back in order to defend against the oppositions attack.

Example

French full back Serge Blanco epitomised all of the key qualities you would look for in a top class full back. Blanco’s decision making was second to none as he would often surprise even his own team when he would opt to run the ball when seemingly there was no space only to make a break through the oppositions defence and make ground for his team. His incredible flair and pace made him an exciting talent to watch and a constant threat the opposition always had to keep a close eye on. The one perceived weakness in his game was deemed his defensive play but he more than compensated for this with his try scoring prowess.

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