EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

8 ways to create a lion-hearted defence

When you are on your own try line, it needs a mix of good technique, savvy tactics and plenty of guts and determination to keep the opposition out. Here are eight key tips.

1. KEEP THE GAPS SMALLER

At the edges of rucks, players must be almost shoulder to shoulder, then only an arm’s distance apart as you move away. If the attack passes the ball out wide, then because of your line speed, they will have to pass deeper, giving you a chance to drift if necessary.

2. USE A THREE-POINT STANCE

The players at the edges of rucks should be very low, like American Football linemen and therefore in a three-point stance.

This means they can come forward quickly and very low.

3. REORGANISE QUICKLY WITH 9 AS BOSS

With multiple attacks close to the line, the 9 must boss players to get back on their feet and fill in the gaps. The other players must listen and be ready to get to either side of the ruck to protect the line.

4. CHOP THE BALL CARRIER

The tackles should be very low, aiming to get the ball carrier on the ground quickly (1). Tackles should be made at knee height so the ball carrier cannot be driven over the line. This also gets the ball carrier off his feet as quickly as possible, unable to make ground and potentially free up the ball (2). 

5. EFFECT THE LATCHERS

When the ball carrier takes the ball forward, he might be driven on by another player. The first defender takes on the ball carrier, and the second drives into the attacking support player to reduce his effectiveness.

6. BE SELECTIVE WHEN YOU GO FOR THE BALL

Don’t waste time on lost causes close to the line. If there is little chance of challenging for the ball or counter rucking, get back into the line ready for the next push (see picture 3 above). 

7. FORCE THEM INTO SLOW BALL

Break their momentum with low tackles then work hard to finish the tackle positively. That means driving through after the tackle, or the tackle assist aiming to either get their hands on the ball or get over the ball. 

8. PUT YOUR BODY ON THE LINE

The players must have the appetite to tackle, get up, then tackle again. Set up activities where they are constantly doing this close to the line – but in short, sharp bursts to keep it match realistic.  

The lion-hearted team will win this crucial part of the game the more it practises.

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