A Simplified Blocking Scheme for Rugby Punting using the Spread Shield Punt Alignment
By Guest Coach Chris Summers
Broomfield High School, Broomfield, CO
Special Teams Coordinator & Offensive Coach
I have always believed in directional punting and using the Shield Punt formation. Depending on where the ball was on the field we would call Red (Right), White (Middle), & Blue (Left). In 2016 we had a player who did Kick-offs, Field Goals/Extra Points, and Punts. He averaged 41 yards per punt and was named Special Teams Conference Player of the year. The daunting task was to find someone to fill these shoes and continue our philosophy of directional punting for the 2017 season.
As training camp went on into late August no one had emerged. Some have tried, but did not display the ability to be consistent on where we wanted to directionally punt the ball. Then one day one of our starting slot running backs approached and asked to try and punt. After some failed attempts I had the idea of having him roll to the right and rugby punt since he was a very good athlete and produced the threat of taking off and running. And with that our Rugby punt scheme was born.
Still using the Shield Punt alignment we installed a very simple blocking scheme for the offensive line. Their rule was to attack the up field shoulder of the defender on you or in the gap to your right. If no one was on you or in your gap to the right then climb to a linebacker and attack his up field shoulder and quickly run your lane (Rip & Run). No one is in a set position to block in this scheme. We are on the move quickly “Ripping & Running.” Our mentality was “No Returns.”
Using this scheme we averaged 40 yards per punt during the season. And as a result we had only 3 attempted returns for a total of 3 yards for the season because our punt coverage was able to get down the field quickly and cover. This has given us an advantage by keeping the Punt Return team guessing if we are going to punt or run a play fake. Below are some diagrams on our punt formation and blocking schemes:
We have since evolved into a two punter rugby system. We have a right footed punter and a left footed punter on our team that are both now in the backfield like QB’s in the old single wing. With that we are now able to roll to the right or left. This has given us a huge advantage as now the punt return unit has to stay more balanced in their alignment. And depending on where the ball is on the field we are able to decide what area of the field we want to punt the ball to.
Diagram #1: Base Alignment
Take an open 45 degree step with your right foot
Y – Rip thru on the outside shoulder of the corner; locate the returner and run to him reading his eyes and be aware of where the ball is in the air. Down the ball if it hits the ground or force the returner to make a fair catch.
PST – On-Gap-Backer (Rip right and clip the outside shoulder of the DE and run to the return alley)
PSG – On-Gap-Backer (Rip right and run to the return alley)
C – On-Gap-Backer (Rip right and run to the return alley)
BSG – On-Gap-Backer (Rip right and run to the return alley)
BST – On-Gap-Backer (Rip and run to the return alley)
- If the DE is head up or just outside of you punch the downfield shoulder and follow your blocking rules.
X – Inside release of the corner and slow play to the returner by staying on his outside shoulder to contain
LPP – Slow flow to the right looking backside A Gap and beyond for any leakage; when the ball is punted contain from the middle of the field.
MPP – Slow flow to the right looking play side A Gap to the edge for any leakage; when the ball is punted contain
RPP – Slow flow right looking at the play side DE coming off the edge to any alley player. You are the lead blocker for the punter in case he runs. When the ball is punted contain.
- Middle of the field – Get outside the hash before punting
- Left hash – Get just inside the right hash before punting
- Right hash – Get to the top of the numbers before punting
- We want to pin the ball between the numbers and the sideline
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article where we will show you some of the video clips from the 2017 season!
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