Ruck stops here!

Ideal for improving defensive rucking

This game concentrates on the defensive positions of the players at the ruck. It allows a ruck to form anywhere in the playing area and forces each team to react and realign quickly.

Set up

Players: Equal numbers, minimum 5 v 5.
Area: 10m wide, 30m long.
Equipment: One ball.

Game notes

  • The attack always retains the ball.
  • Restart after each try or infringement.


  • 1 point for a try.
  • 1 point for preventing the attack from getting over any of the gain lines during the game.

48 key

Ruck stops here-1

Throw the ball to any player. He walks forward to be tackled by the nearest opponent.


Ruck stops here-2

A non-competitive ruck forms over the ball. Particularly watch for how the defence aligns.


Ruck stops here-3 fixed

Call “PLAY” to release the ball. Now play normal rugby with full tackles and competitive rucks.

What to call out

  • “Keep balanced, look ahead, stay onside”
  • “Say who you have covered”
  • “Cover the edge of the ruck first, then fill out”
  • “Go forward and deny the space”

Coaching notes

  • The emphasis is on the defence. Make sure you look at their body positions, organisation and communication.
  • The walking start allows you to see that the players are getting into position at the first ruck. In the first few goes at the game, take your time before releasing the ball from the first ruck, so allowing the defence to align properly.
  • You can introduce a system where the first two players on each side of the ruck identify themselves. Terms that are frequently used include “A and B”, “pillars and posts”, “guards and guard dogs”.
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