EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Simplest ruck defence

Make sure your ruck defenders make gain line tackles to stop an attack making easy ground. It requires good body positions (low and dynamic), plus the discipline not to drift out. Put into a game context quickly with the developments and game situation.


Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 5-8


What to think about

The first defender at the ruck who is not going to be rucking should go to the far side. The next to the near side, then far side. As the other players arrive they take their defensive positions from these three according to where the opposition stand.

The defenders closest to the ruck need to decide how close they want to set up. In this session, keep it simple, asking the player only to be in position where he can see the ball.

Set-up

  1. Work as a pair at the edge of a ruck to stop any attacks going over the gain line.
  2. Go forward and low. The inside defender must not drift out until the ball is in the first receiver’s hands.

What you get your players to do

Put two defenders between two cones 4m apart. Put an attacker with a ball just in front of him 1m away opposite one of the cones, with another attacker outside him (see picture 1 [1]). When the attacker moves the ball back, the defence comes forward.

The attackers go forward, either with a pick-andgo, or pop pass.

To start with, the defence can only make “square” tackles, by putting two hands on the ball, or their shoulder on the ball carrier.

The defenders can come from a three-point stance (one hand on the ground), or low crouch.

Develop with full tackles as the players warm up and improve their technique. Swap defence and attack every 30 seconds. Swap the side the play comes from (left or right) every cycle of players.

Two attackers trying to get over the line in front of them. The defenders can only move forward once the ball is moved backwards, not when it is touched. Develop by adding another attacker and having the defenders run round into position.

Two attackers trying to get over the line in front of them. The defenders can only move forward once the ball is moved backwards, not when it is touched. Develop by adding another attacker and having the defenders run round into position.


Development

Add another attacker behind the ball carrier. The defence aims to win the gain line and then slow or turnover the ruck (see picture 1[2]).

Make the defenders arrive from the side of the defending area. Release the ball from the ruck at different times so defenders have more then less time to get into position.

By having four defenders lying on their front and three attackers waiting by two ruck areas. Shout out a ruck to run to (in this case “B”). The broken white line indicates where the gain line is.

By having four defenders lying on their front and three attackers waiting by two ruck areas. Shout out a ruck to run to (in this case “B”). The broken white line indicates where the gain line is.


Game situation

Put four defenders on their fronts, two facing in, two facing out at the side of the two ruck areas A and B (see picture 2).

Get three attackers to run to one of the ruck areas and put the ball on either one of the corners of the attacking side of the ruck (indicated by cones). In the meantime, the defenders run into position, with two defenders on the side of the ruck where the ball is, one on the other side, and a player in the “boot”, which is just behind the ruck (see picture 3). Either stop there if you are working on positioning or, shout “PLAY” and the attack play as they did above, aiming to cross the gain line.

The attackers put the ball on one of the corners of the ruck and defenders align themselves with two on the ball side, one on the other side and one behind. They must arrive in the order shown: 1 (far), 2 (near), 3 (far) and 4 (in the boot). The attackers aim to get across the gain line.

The attackers put the ball on one of the corners of the ruck and defenders align themselves with two on the ball side, one on the other side and one behind. They must arrive in the order shown: 1 (far), 2 (near), 3 (far) and 4 (in the boot). The attackers aim to get across the gain line.


What to call out

  • “Go straight forward and low, don’t drift out”
  • “Talk to let everyone know who you have covered”
  • “Make the gain line yours”
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