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.

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

Soak up tackles

in Defence, Rugby drills, Tackling

This session works on players reading the situation and not being afraid to give up ground as long as the tackle is made. Sometimes the tackler needs to accept that he cannot “win” the contact, but still needs to bring the ball carrier to ground effectively. MORE

The weakest kink

in Defence, Rugby drills

Work on defensive line speed and communication with the “weakest kink”. Defenders have to adjust their running lines to make sure they are not exposed. Instead of “drilling” the defensive lines, the defenders will have to work out the solutions for themselves. A good session as well for attackers to scan where the space is. MORE

Magic threes!

in Defence, Rugby drills

Defence is all about teamwork and trust. An effective defence is a simple defence and nothing could be simpler and more effective than “magic threes”. Work on communication and looking ahead, while being aware of who’s next to who. MORE

Quickfire winners and losers

in Attack, Defence, Rugby drills

Challenge attackers and defenders to play from a dynamic situation to score or prevent a try. Keep your players thinking about which skills to use to be successful. In this case, good evaion, closing down the space, using the support player, running in support. MORE

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