Modifying the backs’ defence realistically

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to make backs moves training more realistic by putting the play up against a proper defence.

So, I’ve asked myself some questions about what a realistic defence looks like and how players should react to that defence. First, you need a defence! How often are plays perfected unopposed?

Second, you need the defence to come from the right places. That means the correct distances from a scrum or lineout, and adding in a flanker who closes down the inside channel. From rucks, think about what the defensive picture might look like if there’s slow ball or quick ball. And also think how often you run a move from slow ball, and which ones you might run.

A third element, which I’ve just started to introduce, is picking out a weaker defender to target. At international level, sides that play England are more likely to run at George Ford than Ben Teo. And did you know that Leigh Halfpenny rarely tackles with his left shoulder? It means he makes the tackle from that side but rarely dominates the hit, so you can offload.

In Weak defender back attack, I’ve used these elements to make your players think about which defender to attack and then which shoulder to attack. There are rewards for breaking the line. Plus, once through, the move doesn’t finish. Players have to reconnect to beat the last defender. That’s an element that’s too often forgotten.

I will just warn you that if you think the attackers will be nailing their moves more than 50% of the time, you will be disappointed. But that’s exactly like the game.

In my last training session, the outcomes were initially poor. The defence easily closed down any attack. They could see what was coming and adjusted easily. The attack only improved when they offered more than one threat.

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