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.

How to drift the defence at scrums 2

Drift defence at scrums

in Defence, Practice plans, Tackling

With a 5m ruling at scrums, teams tend to use drift defence. However, they need to practise not only the mechanics of the drift but also ways to cover the gap inside the 10, who has to catch up with his openside flanker. MORE

Scrambling: rear tackling

in Defence, Rugby drills

Most tackles from behind are from an angle. Use this session to develop the skills to make realistic tackles as players “scramble” back and chase a ball carrier. A rear tackle is a recovery tackle by a player who’s chasing. MORE

Steady speed defence 1

Steady speed defence

in Defence, Practice plans

Defensive organisation is a core unit skill. From second phase, players need to understand their defensive roles and, more importantly, work together to pressurise the attacking team. You can use this session and its elements throughout your season to achieve this. MORE

Heads up ruck defence

in Defence

Lots of defence drills get the players in position to tackle, but not enough spend time on setting and then, crucially tackling, especially under fatigue conditions. Play heads up, real-life situations in training. Helps players match up to the circumstances in front of them and then complete the job. MORE

Turn tackling into defence

in Defence

Players must work on their individual technique whilst cooperating with their team mates to reduce the options for the attack. This session develops this mindset. A tackler is part of the whole defence. A defence is not always breached because a tackle has been missed, but because a space is not covered. MORE

Close support, attack and defence

in Attack, Defence

Work on the roles and skills of the attackers and defenders closest to the tackle area in a tight space. This activity puts the players in game-like situations to look for solutions. Though there are some principles to follow, this activity will give the players an opportunity to try out different ideas. Expect messy outcomes. MORE

Defensive curves

in Defence, Rugby drills

When the defence is outnumbered, it has to drift with the pass. It still has to go forward, but has to curve out at the same time. This session works on those curves. Defensive systems aim to cut down the time and space for the attack, even when they have to drift out. MORE

Choke tackles before low tackles for new tacklers

in Defence, U10+

If I were coaching tackling to kids for the first time, I wouldn't focus on low tackles. I think it's better to work on the choke tackle. It's safer and more effective. As a professional rugby coach, people often say to me, “oh, but you've never coached an eleven-year-old before.” Well, a year and a half ago, before COVID, I not only coached my son’s U10s and U11s, but I coached the rest of the school’s A, B, and C teams, from U9s up to U12s. During this period, I taught them to choke tackle. MORE

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