Criss-cross ruck decision making

Improve your players’ decision making around the ruck area with this activity which has potential defending threats coming from either inside, outside or both.

Most defenders initially arrive at the ruck from the sides, not from straight behind. Your attackers need to identify the threat and get the angle right to stop them slowing down the ball.

  1. Put an attacker on each corner of one end and a defender on each corner of the other end of the box.
  2. Then have a ball carrier run out from one corner, with another defender running out from a corner.
  3. A tackle is completed around the middle.

  1. You stand behind the attackers and indicate which defender should come forward to aim to steal the ball.
  2. Only when the defender moves can the other two attackers come forward.
  3. You can have both defenders come forward if you want.
  4. Play until the ball is cleanly won by either side.

  1. Develop by making the box a bit wider, putting another attacker and defender on the new corners.
  2. Have the ball passed into the ball carrier, so the passer has to adjust his line to support at the tackle.
  3. Now the ball carrier receives a pass from a supporter, so that supporter has to work to get into position to support from the best angle.
  4. The extra players can decide whether to go into the tackle situation


  • Win the race to the ball.
  • Identify the threat and aim to drive him out and away from the ball.
  • Keep square-on and on the feet at the ruck.
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