Rugby Pass and Offload

Finding the competitive edge over your components.

The aim of every rugby team is to find the competitive edge over their opponents. There are many factors to account for when technically and tactically training a team for a match and competition. Therefore, monitoring a team’s performance by means of key performance indicators may have a positive impact on the overall performance of the team.

What are passes and offloads?

  • A pass is when a player throws (passes) the ball to a teammate in a backward motion.
  • Offload is when a player passes the ball while being tackled, but releases the ball before the tackle is complete.

Comparing passes and offloads in the top 4 rugby union leagues.

  • Passes were higher in the Guinness Pro 12 compared to the Aviva Premiership, Top 14, and Super Rugby.
  • Offloads were significantly higher in Super Rugby and Top 14 compared to the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12.

The high number of passes may be a result of playing a more expansive game by passing the ball out wide on more occasions than others, or because they are playing lots of short passes after the breakdown area. Interestingly it has been found that teams with fewer passes won matches compared to the teams with more passes in a match.

The offloads were significantly highest in Super Rugby, this may show the fast-paced orientated tactics by the teams from this league. Offloads usually avoid the breakdown, ruck, in order for the team to maintain their momentum to try to gain more ground during a phase of play. The increased number of line breaks found also may be as a result of the large number of offloads played. This is because offloads create opportunities to break the defensive line to attempt to score a try. Turnovers may also come as a result of offloads as a poor offload may occur during contact and then have the inability to successfully offload the ball while retaining possession.

Mastering passing and offloads can lead your rugby team to victory.

Passing is a basic skill that players must master in order to be successful players in successful rugby teams. If players do not have a good passing success rate, they are more likely to lose possession and have less of the ball. As a result, the team will constantly be on defense and needs to try regain possession of the ball in order to attack. Offloads are a more advanced skill but once a player has perfected the art of offloading, it can be very effective to break the opponent’s line on attack. By ensuring a really positive success rate of passes and offloads in a team may assist in a team to get on the road to victory.

How to avoid manually analysing your own match footage.

As mentioned, our team here at VS. can assist you with the laborious process of manually searching through your match footage. We have developed a unique solution that swiftly analyses your match footage and which gives you a detailed report on your teams’ games, as well as that of your opponents. You will have the power to assess how good your team’s passes and offloads are, and how you may be able to potentially improve these.

About the Author
Gregory Gordon.
Gregory Gordon is currently a Senior Video Analyst at VS Sports, who is highly involved in the analytics process by performing the analysis as well as managing the video analysts in the company. Gregory is in charge of training the video analysts in all the sports which are offered at VS Sports as well as ensuring that the quality of the analysis is being maintained consistently. He is passionate about sport conditioning and assisting athletes in optimising their sporting abilities. Gregory has obtained his Master’s degree in Sports Science (MPhil) through the University of Johannesburg as well as acquiring a Higher Certificate in Exercise Science through the HFPA. He previously has worked at Orlando Pirates FC for an internship where many different skills were learned and developed through the process.
Schoeman, R. and Schall, R., 2019. Comparison of match-related performance indicators between major professional rugby competitions. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 14(3), pp.344-354.