Defensive systems from set piece

QUESTION: My U15 team has leaked lots of tries from scrums and lineouts recently. What are the best ways to defend from these set pieces?


The problem lies in the connection between the forwards and the backs. The backs are 5-10m back from the forwards, so when the ball is released, they don’t immediately connect.

So, you have to assign clear roles. At the age group you coach, it’s better than only a couple of players are given those roles. Though it would be great to think that all the players are switched on tactically, we know most aren’t!


Key players

  • Positions six and seven in the lineout, the player who’s in the receiver position, 10, blindside winger and full back.
  • 6 and 7 aim to get out of the lineout as soon as the ball is released. They target INSIDE the opposition 10. That means any player who steps back will be clattered.
  • The receiver (R), who’s normally your 9, should instead be your fastest forward. Put your 9 in the hooker position in the channel at the front of the lineout. The receiver stands at the back of the lineout, 2m back. They chase the 10 down.
  • 10 stands just outside their 10, but aims at the opposition 12. He must bring the 12, 13 and openside wing up together. They should imagine themselves to be on a pole at the hips.
  • The blindside wing stands about 20m from the lineout, but 15m infield. The full back stands near the 15m line on the other side of the field.


It all depends on where scrum is across the pitch.

Right-hand side: The openside aims at 10, your 10 aims at their 10 and then tries to shift out if 7 says so. The other backs follow suit. and so on. 9 covers in, while 8 covers behind 9.


Left-hand side: 9 aims at their 10, your 10 aims at their 12, openside runs behind 9. 8 covers in behind.

From a scrum in the middle of the field, always split the backs evenly. 9 will chase out to cover the back who’s on their side. The flankers cover inside the nearest opposition back.

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