React and protect the ball

The last passer of the ball often needs to be the next player into the tackle situation. Use this breakdown exercise to work on this player adopting a strong, square body profile at the ruck.

It helps players to protect a tackled team-mate against the first opposition threat.

  1. Put three players with a ball at one end of the channel.
  2. They walk or jog up the channel, passing to each other in rotation.
  3. When you shout “tackle”, the current ball carrier passes and the receiver goes to ground and presents the ball.
  4. The third player runs around and comes in to challenge for the ball on the ground.

  1. At the same time, the last passer gets over the ball to protect it.
  2. Once you feel the ball has been won or lost, shout “break” and the next three players come forward.

  1. Develop by adding two players, who run down each side of the box.
  2. When you shout “tackle”, one runs in to make the tackle and the other challenges for the ball.
  3. The ball carrier takes the tackle, with the other two attackers protecting the “tackle ball”.
  4. It’s best to run this activity at a low pace and focus especially on technique.


  • Tackled player – aim for long pencil placement.
  • Support player – come square into tackle situation and go over the ball.
  • Challenging player – get hands over the ball if you can.
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