The scrum-half usually plays a sweeper role. But if your first line of defence is missing a player, he might have to step up to cover. Improve your 9’s defensive decision-making with this activity. MORE
Build a team defence ethic by having players defend in threes and fours. This session is far more practical than simple “line, shout and up” type exercises, because during a match there are so many situations to cover. Players will have to cover both narrow and wide spaces, improving their tackling and communication.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 8-10
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 5-7
What to think about
The defence has to be prepared to tackle and deal with different threats under pressure. This can affect players’ concentration when getting into the line.
Have the players make as much noise as possible to convince themselves, you and the opposition that they are ready to defend together and aggressively.
- Spread out to cover the space, but no further than 3m apart.
- Go up together as a line.
- Call out who you have got covered.
- Make a tackle!
What you get your players to do
Set up your players as the top picture [if you don’t have pads, then these holders become a target] with a player and ball next to a wide and a narrow gate of cones. The distances between the cones should be based on your players’ age and ability.
Shout which set of cones to run to – narrow or wide. The defenders run and set up to cover the width of those cones. When the player by that set of cones bends down to touch the ball, the defenders move forward to tackle the pads in front of them, with one end player free. They return to the middle to repeat the exercise.
Set up four defenders and six attackers as the middle picture, with coloured cones to indicate a narrow and wide width to cover.
Shout out which colour the attackers can approach and give the defence five seconds to get into position. Start with touch tackling to check the line is working. Then move on to full contact.
Play 8 attackers v 4 defenders. Start at the side of the pitch and say whether the next attack is wide or narrow. Then give both teams three seconds to get into position to play.
To start, the ball must be passed off the ground and the defence has to be 2m from it. Play full contact rugby and stop if a ruck or maul forms.
What to call out
- “Stay onside”
- “Look ahead and still know who is next to you”
- “Move up together”