EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

The 8 basics of ruck defence

Shut off the easy yards for opposition sides attacking from the ruck. Ensure your players are in the right place, at the right time and making the difference.

1. MESS WITH THEIR BALL

Slow their ball placement legally, so your ruck defence can get into place. The tackler gets up over the ball by twisting so they are on top of the ball carrier. They will then have to roll away promptly though.

The next defender aims beyond the ball rather than make a poor effort to grab the ball. If they can be in a strong position to challenge for the ball, they should go for it.

2. COUNTER-RUCK IF THEY ARE ISOLATED

Opponents may form a ruck with small players or fewer numbers because they are isolated (like from a kick ahead) so flood numbers into the ruck.

3. SET YOUR PILLARS

Posts, guards, or pillars. Whatever you call them, it is essential there is a defender on each side of the ruck. They set the defensive line.

4. PUMP THE HEART

The pillars are the heart of the defence and the rest of the defenders fill out from there. Make sure they are onside and matching up depending on the attacking shape.

5. FIRST MAN PICK, SECOND MAN 9

The closest player to the ruck covers a pick-and-go, the second defender covers the 9. 

6. CHOP CLOSE TO THE LINE

When you are close to your own line, your players get very low and chop the ball carrier down quickly. Don’t worry about dominating the tackle. Just stop their momentum.

7. MAN IN THE BOOT

Make sure that there is a player behind the ruck organising. Normally the scrum half, they work out where the defence needs more resources.

8. FAST OFF, KEEP SOLID

The first three players on each side of the ruck must come forward fast and together. They should move forward and not drift out until the ball is well away. 

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