Rugby tactics for defending at the back of the scrum

Defending the openside wheel

The close openside break (ball going right)

9: Your scrum half is best placed to deal with the initial attack. He needs to be physical and have the correct technique to complete the required tackle.

If the opposing number 8 or 9 break into the openside, your scrum half needs to make the initial tackle and contest the ball.

8: Your number 8 covers the outside offload

7: Your openside flanker (7) covers the inside offload.

6: Your blindside flanker (6) gets involved where most
needed, as quickly as possible.

Drill to get players defending the openside wheel


The ball passed out wide to the openside

9: Your scrum half breaks quickly towards the inside shoulder of the ball carrier. He tackles the ball carrier or covers the switch runner.

8: Your number 8 performs a similar role to your 7. He attempts to catch up with your 7 but runs a flatter line.This should ideally be along the gain line.

7: Your 7 initially covers on the inside of your scrum half, in case the opposition scrum half dummies and attempts to break.

The 7 attempts to catch up with your 9, but runs a slightly flatter line closer to the gain line and preferably in front of it.

6: Your blindside flanker (6) chases around the opposition’s side of the scrum. His job is to stop the switch back run or pass, or to apply pressure on the blindside kick from their 9 or 10. If the ball contines to be passed out, he should follow it across.

Defending the blindside wheel

The close blindside break or pass

9: Your scrum half moves around the scrum, following the breaking or passing player. His role here is to try to catch up with play to make the tackle, or tackle the next player who receives the pass.

8: If your 6 has the ball carrier covered, your number 8 plugs the inside offload. If their ball carrier is not covered, your 8 alters course and runs a “corner flagging” role (running towards the corner flag to intercept a potential linebreak), to cut off the ball carrier and the outside pass.

7: Your 7 chases the ball around the opposition side of the scrum to tackle the ball carrier, or to contest the ruck or next phase.

6: Your 6 has been wheeled away from the ball and touch line. He must be quick off the mark to close down the opposition’s 8 or 9, whether they break or pass. Ideally, he moves forwards from the scrum to cut down the ball carrier’s space and time, without being outflanked and beaten on the outside.

9: Your 9 needs to communicate the potential danger and warn of the break and pick up.

Defending the blindside wheel

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