Simplest ruck defence

Make sure your ruck defenders make gain line tackles to stop an attack making easy ground. It requires good body positions, plus the discipline not to drift out. Put into a game context quickly with the developments and game situation.


  1. ŒTwo attackers try to get over the line in front of them
  2. The defenders can only move forward once the ball is picked up, not when it is touched
  3. ŽDevelop by adding another attacker and having the defenders run round into position


  1. ŒHave four defenders lying on their front and three attackers waiting by two ruck areas
  2. Shout out a ruck to run to

  1. ŽThe attackers put the ball on one of the corners of the ruck
  2. The defenders align themselves with two on the ball side, one on the other side and one behind
  3. The attackers aim to get across the gain line, which is where the defenders are lined up



Stop any attacks going over the gain line, close to the ruck.



  • Put two defenders between two cones 4m apart.
  • Put an attacker with a ball just in front of him 1m away opposite one of the cones, with another attacker outside him. The defence comes forward when the ball’s picked up.
  • The attackers go forward, either with a pick-and go, or pop pass.
  • To start with, the defence can only make “square” tackles, by putting two hands on the ball, or their shoulder on the ball carrier.
  • The defenders can come from a three-point stance (one hand on the ground), or low crouch.
  • Develop with full tackles.


  • Add another attacker behind the ball carrier. The defence aims to win the gain line and then slow or turnover the ruck.
  • Make the defenders arrive from the side of the defending area. Release the ball from the ruck at different times so defenders have more or less time to get into position.


  • Put four defenders on their fronts, two facing in, two facing out at the side of the two ruck areas A and B.
  • Get three attackers to run to one of the ruck areas and put the ball on either one of the corners of the attacking side of the ruck (indicated by cones).
  • In the meantime, the defenders run into position, with two defenders on the side of the ruck where the ball is, one on the other side, and a player in the “boot”, which is just behind the ruck.
  • Either stop there if you are working on positioning or, shout “PLAY” and the attack play as they did above, aiming to cross the gain line.
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