Defending in your own 22

Your 22m area is the opposition’s team “red zone” and most likely place for them to score points. Use this activity to help your players work harder than the attack and squeeze them out. This activity builds the idea before putting into a game realistic situation.

Defending the 22 is so important as any break, unlike further up-field, normally leads to a score. Many teams mentally try to stop the attack gaining ground whereas a more positive outlook is to push the attack back out of the 22m zone.

  1. Put several small circles of cones (or ruck pads, or tackle tubes) across the 22m area.
  2. Each of these represents a tackle and breakdown point.
  3. Split into groups of about eight.
  4. Starting at one side, one player goes to ground in the circle (as if he has made a tackle), and another stands over him as if he is contesting for the ball.
  5. The other six set themselves in a defensive line on either side of the circle.
  6. When you put your hands on a ball they move forward at least five metres past the breakdown.
  7. The two outside players go for the next pad.

  1. They then realign at the pad, ready to come forward again.
  2. The end two players will tackle the next pad.


  1. Develop by playing an 8-a-side touch game.
  2. When the ball carrier is touched, he goes to ground and the defence has to realign to come forward. The attacking team ball carrier goes to ground and one player goes over the ball before the next player passes.
  3. The attack must attack going the same way (not switch play) until they reach the 15m line.
  4. They are only allowed to make two passes after each tackle.
  5. The defender races up after the pass, with the aim of stopping the opposition crossing the gain line.


  • Go forward in defence.
  • Start from a low position.
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