Secrets of the Successful Rugby Hooker

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The hooker has to be among the toughest and strongest players in a rugby side. His role requires strength, endurance and courage and no small amount of skill. Wearing number two on his rugby jersey, he is expected to be at the forefront of all the close quarters play.

There is one aspect of being a hooker that is beyond the player's control – basic physical size. Hookers need to have a powerful build with massive shoulders and preferably no neck. Their role requires great upper body strength, a strong back and powerful legs. The ideal hooker is probably the shortest man in the pack.

In open play, on offence the hooker is used as a battering ram. Being low to the ground he should be able to get underneath the opposition and so drive them back. He should also be a forager, ready to snap up a loose ball or short pass for an attempt to burst across the advantage line. On defense, the hooker should be trying to slow down opposition ball and to make as much of a nuisance of himself as he can within the rules. His job is also to block attempts to break through the defensive line around the ruck and maul.

At scrum time, the hooker's role is to secure the ball for his team. On his own side's put in, he should strike out with his foot and drag the ball back to his own side, while the other members of his pack apply their weight to prevent the other side pushing them off the ball. This requires good technique and timing, so the hooker must be able to coordinate well within the scrum half.

On the opposition's feed, the hooker has two choices. He can either strike for the ball least disrupting their possession. These days, the first option is becoming less common as strikes against the head are rare. It is more common to see an eight man push to make life difficult for the opposition.

In modern rugby, the hooker has assumed the role of throwing the ball into the lineout. This requires great skill and coordination. First and foremost the ball must be thrown straight down the middle between the two lines of forwards. Then the hooker must be able to pick out his target. This player will be indicated when the lineout call is made. The hooker must recognize the call and be able to throw the ball at a speed and trajectory so that his target can secure the ball. There is no shortcut to ensuring a successful lineout. It requires practice and understanding. Any error in accuracy or timing could mean losing the ball to the opposing team.

All top class hookers have these attributes but some go a little further. One aspect of the hooker's role is to intimidate opposing players. Often, therefore, they try to make themselves look as unpleasant as possible. Most go into a match unshaven. This serves several purposes: it makes them less susceptible to discomfort from an opposing players skin (or stubble) rubbing against their face; opposing front rowers find it uncomfortable at scrum time; and, it makes them look aggressive.

Some hookers have intimidating hairstyles or wear mouth guards that make them look ugly. There are even some don't brush their teeth before a match in the hope that bad breath will make their opponents prefer to keep their distance. Others intimidate verbally.

The hooker is a key player in any rugby side. His role is not easy. But if a hooker has the skills outlined above, then he will be an asset to his side. The main secret to being a great hooker, however, is hard work – and lots of it.

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Source by Eddard Blake

Afraz hassan

A Passionate About Sports..........

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