Reload game to run them ragged

Help players find the soft edges in a defence by exposing them to lots of match-type scenarios. This game creates opportunities for attackers to react to space and attack it. 

I like to work on many game-like scenarios to improve player depth skills. Most of the work is on unstructured situations, with 4v3s. We might vary release times from rucks, so players have to find the width and time their runs if the ball comes quickly or in a few seconds. Ideally, you are working with 10 to 12 players with an attacking overload. 

So for me, the non-negotiable is that we fill the field. From here, players need to have the vision to see where the gaps are, and as the ball works its way along the line, we can attack where there are mismatches.


The best results come when we have a competition and keep a score. Unopposed is not realistic enough. The players like to play 8v8 touch from try line to 10m line. The defence always needs to hold one player as a full-back, and there are also tackle conditions which are:

  • The ball carrier goes to the ground when touched.

  • As they go to ground the toucher and another defender also go to ground. This creates a mismatch and spaces to attack.

As the two defenders on the ground get up, they create “soft edges” for the ball carrier to attack. This helps perfect a play that a lot of teams are using to cut inside the 10 channel.


Another 8v8 game practises getting the ball from a ruck and passing to 10.  The 10 now has two options: They can take on the defence round the outside or can look inside to feed a player coming in blind at pace.

With forwards running lazy lines to cover or over-running in their eagerness to stop the 10, they will go the wrong way if the blind runner comes into the gap.

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