Dice defence

Create adaptive defenders who can react to the problems in front of them and make accurate defensive calls.

This game works on both sides of the ball with the attacking team looking to get past the defence and score within the allocated number of phases.

  1. Set up a 20m (or larger) box. Put four defenders in the middle of one end of the box and six attackers at the side. A feeder is put at the side of the box, about 2m away from the middle line.
  2. Roll a dice and call out the number. That’s how many attackers enter the box. (If you don’t have a dice, just call out a number).

  1. Countdown from five and let the play commence with a pass from the feeder.
  2. One the ball is in play, the game starts and doesn’t stop until a try has been scored, the defensive team has won the ball back, or until the agreed number of phases have been used.
  3. Ideal for contact, you can also use non-contact two-handed touch, where the ball carrier has to go to ground if they cannot pass immediately.


Make the game easier or harder for the defence by changing the pitch size, number of dies being used and the starting position of the defenders.

A narrow pitch will likely allow for defenders to push quickly off the line and try to make an early, dominant tackle whereas a wider pitch will test the defences ability to drift with the ball and stay connected to each other.

The defenders could also start by facing away from the attack and only turning at the last minute.

Work with the defence to help them get off the line initially square, taking early ground away from the attacking team before either continuing this into a blitz or drifting sideways. (See below for technical terms).

Players can also explore what the best solution is when the defence has more numbers than the attack. Challenge the defence to win the ball back from the attack within the agreed phases rather than just being content by not conceding a try.

As players on both sides of the ball advance, reduce the amount of time they have to set up and play to become more match realistic.


  • Quick off the line: Defenders move forward fast when the ball is released to reduce the time and space for the attackers.
  • Early, dominant tackle: The ball carrier is tackled before they have built up momentum. Also, they are tackled before they have reached the gain line, which means their support players are more likely to be out of position.
  • Square: The defender moves up with their shoulders and hips facing up the pitch. That means they can move left or right, and tackle with either shoulder. When a tackler turns towards a touchline, they will find it harder to tackle with their “inside” shoulder.
  • Blitz: Moving forward and up the pitch quickly.
  • Drift: Moving sideways to cover the width of the pitch.
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