EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Up together

Defending is not just about stopping the opposition from scoring, it is about trying to regain possession. To achieve that you need a defence that moves forward as a unit and puts the opposition under pressure. “Up together” gives you the tools to develop your defensive organisation so all your players understand their roles in it.


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


What to think about

A good defence relies on three things: discipline, communication and trust.

Your players need the discipline to stay onside and not to break the straight line by getting ahead or behind their team mates.

Your players must communicate with each other so the line moves up at the same time and the spaces remain the same.

All defenders need to trust that if they drift out the player inside them will cover the space they have just left.

Talk to your players about the importance of the touchline as an extra “defender”. If they can force the attack toward touch, it cuts down on their attacking options dramatically.

Set-up

  1.  Watch the defenders on either side of you to check the line is straight.
  2.  Move forward at the same speed.
  3.  Use consistent calls to move forward, for example; “Set-Hold-Up.”

What you get your players to do

Work groups of four through a series of coned gates. The aim is for them to keep a straight defensive line. Pause them at each gate to get them set before they move forward as a unit. They should always move forward at the same speed and keep the gaps between themselves consistent. Use different patterns of gates to make the players drift or get wider or narrower.

Vary the width of the gates so players get used to changing their spacing as they move forward.

Vary the width of the gates so players get used to changing their spacing as they move forward.


Development

  •  Get the groups to move up at different speeds from very slow to fast.
  •  Repeat the exercise backwards as well as forwards.
  •  Set up two lines of four players facing each other (as in the “Mirroring” picture). The defenders mirror the movements of the attackers as dictated by you. They move up on your call and all meet at the same time.
The defenders should all meet the attacking players at exactly the same time.

The defenders should all meet the attacking players at exactly the same time.


Game situation

Play a game of 6 v 4 touch rugby. The attackers have six touches to score, with the touched player going to ground and placing the ball back each time. Once the attackers start passing in one direction they can’t switch back in the other direction until there has been a touch tackle. If there is a touch tackle, the defence must get onside (two metres back from the touch) and be set, ready to move forward and drift together.

Score 1 point for every try scored in the 6 attempts and then swap the teams over.

The four defenders have to stay together and use the touchlines as an extra defender.

The four defenders have to stay together and use the touchlines as an extra defender.


What to call out

  •  “Talk the whole time – tell your team mates where you are and what you’re doing”
  •  “Stay on the balls of your feet”
  •   “Scan – look from side-to-side and check the line”
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