Ruck decision making like the All Blacks

The All Blacks do decision-making better than anyone and especially around the rucks. In this exercise, create dynamic breakdown situations so that players must decide whether to enter the ruck or stay in the line.

With you deciding how many defenders to put into each ruck, the attack will have to adjust the numbers and their timing to win this ruck and the next.

  1. Set up a tackle situation – with one attacker and one tackler moving into a small box.
  2. Put two to three tacklers on the tackle line. They move forward with the first tackler.
  3. Have three ruck-pad holders ready to contest the ruck.
  4. Two pods of forwards wait to run into action.
  5. A receiver and 10 wait.
  6. The starting point is that a ball carrier tries to beat a tackler in a small box. This provides a dynamic beginning to the exercise (you could add another attacker and defender here).

  1. Call out how many ruck-pad holders will contest the ruck (and not this first tackle).
  2. After the tackle is made, 9 clears the ball to the receiver, who is supported by the first pod of attackers.

  1. Once the ball is recycled, the team play off 10.
  2. The next pod can either take the ball up or play off 10.
  3. Swap directions. Add in more or less defenders and adjust the widths.


  • The support runners should use an L-shaped run to enter the rucks.
  • They need to scan the situation – one bullet for one threat.
  • The next ball carrier has to time his run to take the ball at pace.
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