Develop the front-line 9

The scrum-half usually plays a sweeper role. But if your first line of defence is missing a player, he might have to step up to cover. Improve your 9’s defensive decision-making with this activity.

When the opposition attack from quick ball, your 9 might have to go forward to plug a gap in your defensive line.


  1. Put five attackers and four defenders plus a 9 on one side of the field.
  2. Number the defenders 1 to 4.
  3. On your whistle, one attacker goes to the first ball while the other four align ready to attack down the field.
  4. The defenders sprint into position to create a defensive wall, with the 9 sweeping behind.

  1. After 3 seconds, blow the whistle again. The attack now aims to beat the defence inside the first set of 20m cones.
  2. Use touch tackling.
  3. On a further whistle, the attackers move to the next cone.
  4. At the same time, callout which defender drops out, so leaving an overlap.
  5. The defending 9 must decide whether to step in.

  1. If possible, the attack aims to run a forward against the 9.
  2. On the next whistle, the attack moves to the next cone and a new number is called.
  3. The previous player rejoins the game.


The 9 faces two decisions:

  • Does he continue to sweep once the team is a player down?
  • Does he step into the line at the guard position (close to the ruck) or go elsewhere?
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