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Learning how to pass the ball is one of the first things a beginning rugby player must learn. There are many different types of passes in rugby. Before mastering more complicated passes, it is important to learn how to complete a basic pass. When learning to pass, it is essential you know that there can be no forward passes in rugby. All passes must be either sideways or backwards. See this video about determing whether a pass is a forward pass.

The two most common passes in rugby are the Lateral Pass and the Pop Pass.


Treat a rugby ball like a large mug of water for most passes and when running with the ball. Keep that mug upright so it doesn't spill.

The red arrow (right) should be pointed at the sky for short and medium distance passes. The longer the pass, the more you want the arrow to point at your target - and the more you want spin. It does little good to place a great deal of spin on the ball when the receiver is only 5 meters away. On the other hand, a 15-meter pass requires the arrow to point at the target and enough spin to make your mark.

A good video illustrating lateral passes through a progression of distances is included below.

For longer spiral passes, it is more important you have spin on the ball. In order to do this, the hand opposite the direction of the pass comes up over the ball as the pass is thrown, causing the ball to spin. In other words, if you are passing to the left, the tip of the ball is pointed in the direction of the pass, your left hand is below the ball for support, and your right hand is on top of the ball and causes it to spin. This type of pass is the most common and is the best pass for long range passes because a spinning ball travels quicker and straighter because of less air resistance. See s video on how to make a basic spiral pass.


This is a short pass. The ball is simply popped up in the air with a flick of the fingers and your wrists. This pass is intended for short distances where a player floats the ball up in the air for a teammate to run into it. At the apex of this pass, the ball is typically never above their teammates head. See this video on how to make a pop pass.

Other more sophisticated passes include:

DUMMY PASS (which is not a pass at all)
The dummy pass is not a sophisticated pass, rather when someone fakes a pass to confuse the defenders. Thus, the dummy pass is when a player fakes a pass to a teammate and keeps the ball to continue running. A dummy pass can confuse a defender who is trying to tackle the ball carrier and can leave the other side of the pitch open for attack.

The dive pass is used in situations where the player has been unable to get himself into the proper position for a long pass. The player should dive and release the ball in the direction the player wants the ball to travel. Then when the arms are at full stretch the ball is released. This is a quick pass meaning the player with the ball is under time constraints.    

Similar to the standard pass except the ball is passed with a flick of the wrists rather than exaggerated body movements. This pass is not a pop pass, rather a medium range pass that has less spiral. This type of pass may be used when a player is under time constraints.

This pass is used when distributing the ball from the scrum to the back line. If passing to the left, the right foot must be nearest the ball. The foot placement in this pass is important as this allows the player to push off on the right foot and create more power. The other foot is positioned about a hip’s width away pointing towards the receiver, the knees are slightly bent. Make the arms extended so that when the player receives the ball he can swing through a wide arc, with the force of his whole body in one movement.

Click this link for a website that provides a good general description of passing.


Note that you keep the ball upright (axis is ground to sky) for short and medium passes.
Longer passes require pointing the tip of the ball in the direction of the pass and more spiral.



Notice the "spiral pass" is intended more for longer distances.





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