VIDEO: Much more than a simple 2 v 1 drill

Colin Philips, an age grade and academy coach with the Scottish Rugby Union shared this video with me. It was partly based on an thought we were talking about. He included some extra ideas, and watch carefully for his coaching method to really enhance his players’ learning outcomes.

Outline of the exercise

  • Two attackers race down an 8m box to score at the far end.
  • A defender starts in the middle of the back half of the box, but cannot advance any further than the halfway point.
  • This forces the attackers to engage the defender.

Random starts

To start this part of the activity, the two attackers faced each other passing the ball, before one them decides to run forward.

This increases the randomness of the start. The attackers aren’t focused on the defender yet and the support player has to realign.

Personalised feedback

While Colin does throw in some ideas to all the players, he also speaks to players as they pass him.

This immediate feedback is very powerful because the player can relate to it straightaway based on what just happened.

Notice that Colin gives the player all his attention. In the meantime, the players continue to run through the exercises. This keeps the energy up.

Square up and balance

Colin is keen that the passer is balanced when they pass the ball. That allows them to “stay in the game” once the pass has gone.

As the exercise progresses, he stresses the idea of getting a second touch on the ball. That means the passer aims to get the ball back after their partner has beaten the defender.


  • The attackers must always complete a pass once past the defender.
  • Encourage an early pass, and then another pass to pull the defender out of position.
  • Make the box longer, so the defender doesn’t engage immediately.


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