Simple scrum and lineout defensive set ups

Some simple organisation can mean you cut down lots of teams attacking options, especially if they have one quick or big (or both!) player who loves to run with the ball. This works well with younger age groups.

From around under 12s and over, teams begin to consider their set piece defence in more detail. More players are being allocated a preferred position on a regular basis and coaches are splitting into forwards and backs more often. Therefore it’s a good time to focus on improving this area of the game, though execution will be a long way behind expectation.


Set piece defence from a lineout is often easier than from a scrum at this age group. Basically you leave your back three lineout players to cover their 10 and 12 and the rest of the backs (10, 12, 13 and winger) cover their 13, 15, and wing.

Have your hooker at the back of the lineout in the receiver position. Your 9 should be at the front of the lineout where the hooker is. As the ball is thrown in, he can easily get into position to gather any loose balls.


Set piece defence from a scrum is easy one side, but more difficult from the other and confusing from the middle.

From your right-hand side, the 9 is often passing with his weak hand. Their 10 will receive a poorish pass, not be comfortable to pass out because he is passing with his weak hand. If 10 does, the 12 will be in the same situation. Therefore, you run a compressed defence, with 10 standing outside 10, 12 in front of 12 and 13 inside 13, 11 just outside 13. The run up and in, with 11 really sprinting up to get between their 13 and 14.

If their 10 steps in, your 7 and 8 should stop him. In the event that 13 does get the ball, then your 11 and 13 will have enough time to shift out to defend, but 11 might be able to pincher him anyway.

High risk? Only against teams who are superb handlers. And if they are, they will break through the inside anyway if you try to cover wide.

From your left hand side, their passing is much better. 9 must defend now. If he’s a good defender, put him to scrummage on the blindside and get your best flank defender at 9.

Your 9 goes at 10, your 10 goes at 12 (starting on his inside) and so on across the field. It’s easier to run up and out than straight forward. The 7 also goes at 10, and the 8 runs into the space behind 10.

From a midfield scrum, split the back line so you have three players either side of the scrum, no matter the opposition do.

In training, walk through each scenario. Ask players what their triggers, roles and responsibilities are.

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