An extra split second of pressure on the opposition can be the difference between success and failure. Rugby defence is not just about defensive systems. The best defensive teams enjoy defending. They are positive in defence and loud and accurate with their communication. So, does your rugby team see defence as a chore or as a great chance to win back the ball? Use the defence drills below to get your team working together to form a more cohesive defensive unit.

Sitting ducks

in Defence, Rugby drills

Some tackles are tougher than others but players must not miss the “sitting duck” tackles, where a ball carrier is stationary or running sideways.  This session gives weaker tacklers some confidence. ACTIVITY 1 Two players stand inside the box Throw the ball to one of the players while the other comes forward to tackle them... MORE

Counter attack randoms

in Attack, Defence, Passing & Handling, Rugby drills

Develop attackers’ ability to realign after a chase to retrieve the ball and then attack a different type of defence each time. Challenge the defenders to organise on the run too. By Dan Cottrell ACTIVITY Three defenders (A,B,C), each which a number allocated to them Four attackers, in a two and two, run back to... MORE

Free pass chasers

in Attack, Defence, Mini tag, Passing & Handling, Rugby drills

Encourage a good free pass and acceleration of the ball carrier, with the free passing looking to support a possible return pass. By Dan Cottrell Two attackers start with a free pass when you call a colour The defender runs to the coloured cone you called The free passer aims to be support the ball... MORE

Ruck defence organiser and the two-step call

in Defence, Rucking & Mauling

by Chris Capps-Jenner Get your players to quickly react to their roles and who they are marking, plus get off the line quickly with these ruck defence warm up exercise. Why use it? At rucks, defenders have to cover the sides of the ruck and read what’s in front of them. The two-step call helps... MORE

Snakes and ladders scenario game

in Attack, Defence, Rugby drills, Small-sided games

Use this game to help players to decide about the risks and rewards for attacking and defending certain areas of the pitch. Success allows the attack up the ladder. Fail and slide down the snake. By Dan Cottrell Six attackers start on the 22m line and they can start anywhere along the line Six defenders... MORE


in Attack, Defence, Mini tag, Rugby drills

Develop both attack and defence support roles with this attacking challenge. The attackers have different levels to complete to see how many tries they score. By Dan Cottrell The first starting point is 2m from the try line, and then each subsequent turn is another 2m back Two attackers start on the first 2m line,... MORE

Weak shoulders? Close those gaps

in Defence, Rugby drills

A weak shoulder is where the defender is attacked on the side he is not set up to tackle on so normally the attacker can step inside. The two activities will help players gain better balance before making a tackle. By Dan Cottrell TECHNIQUE Turning the hips and shoulders to cover the outside break exposes... MORE

B defender decisions

in Defence, Rugby drills, U12+

This session concentrates on the “B” defender, the one who is second out from the side of a defensive ruck. His role is to either stop the 9 running or, if the 9 passes, close down the space inside the 10. By Dan Cottrell ACTIVITY Have a “9” at the ball Put two defenders at... MORE

Ruck races in defence

Ruck races in defence

in Defence, Rucking & Mauling

Based on top team’s ability to win crucial turnover ball, use this activity to develop your players’ detail at the breakdown. Why use it? To contest the ball at the ruck, speed to the ball is a vital factor to allow the player the chance to get his hands on the ball. If he’s there... MORE

Fresh coaching ideas every day





Unlimited web access + Weekly digital magazine

Included in your subscription:

Find out more

Follow us