Cover tackle chaos

We spend a lot of time coaching players to avoid contact when ball carrying but there are times when an attacker has to run at an opponent, so prepare defenders for their 1v1 battles.


A 2m channel with five attackers facing five defenders. Coloured cones either side of the channel in a matching symmetrical pattern (picture 1).

The rules

You call a colour – in this case RED – and the first attacker decides whether to attack the red cone on his left or right. The first defender goes with him and looks to make a tackle before the attacker breaks through and scores a try (picture 2).

Progress by pairing players one to five on each side in terms of equal ability. You then call out a number and colour and the players with that number play against each other and the attacker looks to score (picture 3).

Note: Having cones on both sides allows you to spot who has a weakness tackling on one side versus the other.


  • Each try is worth a point.
  • Add up the points to decide which team wins.

Tell them

“Watch the ball carrier carefully, close the space down and don’t overstretch.”

“Ensure feet are close to the ball carrier when making the tackle.”

“Wrap arms around the ball carrier and hold on tight.”

“Two hands on the ball and uses quick foot movement.”

Coaching tips

Prepare for those moments in a match when your player simply MUST make a tackle.

Cover tackle chaos-1 Cover tackle chaos-2 Cover tackle chaos-3

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