Magic backs move

Bath and former Leicester back Sam Vesty begins a series of coaching blogs designed to help clubs who sit near the top of the amateur level ladder. We hope they can be of use to more than just those clubs though and may inspire any player or coach who plays the game. Sam has worked under the leadership of the likes of Pat Howard, Richard Cockerill and Sir Ian McGeechan, has won 3 Premiership titles and started the 2009 Heineken Cup final at fly-half.

Sam Vesty gives his plays for rugby coaches to create a magic backs move.


I know I said that my mantra was to keep things simple but there is space in everyone’s game for a magic backs move. As rugby players, especially backs, we spend a fair bit of time trying to unlock defences now defences are so good that it can pay to think  think outside the box. Coming up with these plays is always fun if not completely sensible.  We decided that one particular team were going to be vulnerable to the chip but instead of a conventional one we passed it to Geordan Murphy who turned his back on the opposition and kicked it over his head. Unbelievably this resulted in a try but unless you have a player as talented as Geordan I wouldn’t bother trying it.

Three of my favourites are:


This is a scrum move that works against drift defences and won us try of the month a few years ago.   It works by showing the defence something they are used to with a slight twist and if done well can split opposition centres.
From the scrum it goes as normal A9 to A10. A10 miss passes to A13.  His job is to get the defence drifting so he runs on an out line. Once they are drifting he feeds the ball back inside to A12. At this point the defence assume the  move is completed and commit to the tackle.  Now comes the difficult part ,A12 will be under pressure and A15 has to have great timing to arrive in the hole between the centres.

Sam Vesty's magic backs move

Notice on the diagram that A11 has ran around the back of both of the centres this makes the defence go into a drift. It is a bug bear of mine when teams don’t use the Blind Side Winger in their 1st phase plays.  He is an extra man that will give you the overlap. Even if the move doesn’t directly involve him he can run a dummy line that may stop a defender for a split second which may give a teammate a better chance of breaking the line.


This move is designed to make it look as though we are going wide with a mini maul but instead A13 turns his back to the defence and leaves it on his hip with one hand and the flanker runs on to it and through a hole.  As A13 turns his back  A12 and A11 run around the back of the mini maul, the defence see this and react by drifting into the wide channels. A13 must show slight of hand and with as much deception as possible leaves the ball for one of the flankers who, up to this point must look disinterested, accelerates onto the ball.

Sam Vesty move - the 5 man shield


So called as Wales have been great exponents of this play which usually resulted in Shane Williams scoring.  Again this play works by showing the defence something they are used to seeing, in this play it is a switch.  From this switch D10 and D12 commit early to the tackle the ball is then moved to attack in a different channel.

Sam Vesty magic backs move - Wales

The critical point of this move is A12 being able to take a switch change his line and deliver a quality pass to A10. Other options are for A12 to pass short to A13.

As with all moves it doesn’t really matter what number you have on your back if there is someone in the backline better suited to certain roles then swap them in.

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