Keeping your guard up

Following on from unopposed defence at the breakdown, it’s important for players to practise it for real, learning who should tackle who and how to “fold”. This is a full-on defensive session.

Getting players into position around the ruck means the attacking team can’t make easy ground from the base.

  1. Play 6 v 5.
  2. Starting in the 5m channel on the 22m line, the attacking 9 pops the ball to a team-mate, who runs straight at the defence.
  3. One defender should tackle him, one guards the blind side, and the other three defend the open side.
  4. Tell players not to contest the breakdown – that’s not what you’re practising.
  5. But do encourage the tackler to “bounce” to his feet, and the ball carrier to snap his body and place the ball back in a long presentation position.

  1. The 9 then either passes to a runner who attacks the fringe, attacks himself, or tries to draw a defender and pass (inside or out) to one of his forwards.

  1. The relevant guard should tackle the carrier, while his fellow defenders fold again, ready to repel the next threat.
  2. Keep the attack going across the width of the pitch and back, if necessary, with the defence aiming to stop the attackers reaching the try line.


  • Focus on continually “folding” to cover a round-the-corner attack.
  • The player furthest from the ruck should target the 10.
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