Some ways to apply pressure

You could look at a lot of things in this video, especially the other principles of play. However, keep focused on whether the defence is under pressure or not, and why.

The play starts from a scrum.The team score at the end of this passage of play. It lasts just over a minute.

The sequence goes:

Scrum, two passes, line break, offload, pass, ruck, two passes, offload, ruck, pass, ruck, pass, ruck, three passes, line break, pass, offload, TRY!

So, 11 passes, two offloads, two line breaks, four rucks, six tackles, one try.

Note that all the tackles and rucks, apart from the very last tackle, happen on or around the opposition 10m line.

You can analyse that fact in all sorts of depth, plus the detail around the skills. However, for this lesson, let’s pick out some themes.


Attacking spaces pulls the defence out of position.

How did the winger find space?

There are long passes to a player in space. The defence has to race across the pitch to cover. Therefore, they are wrong-footed and the player can run through.

Pressure: Defence has become disorganised because they cannot cover the whole width of the pitch.


When the ball is recycled quickly after a tackle, the defence has less time to reset.

What makes this ruck quicker? The ball carrier has fought for some extra ground, so the defence haven’t been able to compete effectively. Also, the tackled player has used good ball presentation.

What is happening to the defence? They are moving backwards. They are also having to decide which side of the ruck to defend.

Pressure: Defence is going backwards and has to reset.


Passing keeps the defence refocusing on where to defend. The supporting players have to read the defence and find gaps themselves.

So, attackers moving the ball and themselves to where the defence are not.

What is the ball carrier doing well? He has drawn a defender, finding another attacker in space with their pass and they are attacking at pace.

How has the supporting player moved? He has kept his spacing with ball carrier, so not too close. He has moved to where there is space.

Pressure: Pulling defenders out of position, at speed, so other defenders cannot fill the gaps.


Here, there is go forward even where there are defenders in front of the ball carrier.

How has the passer created go forward? He has attacked the edge of a defender. He has passed out of a tackle.

How has the supporting player created go forward? He has moved to a space left by a defender, who is making the tackle. He has also communicated they are in the space.

Pressure: Pulling defenders out of position, at speed, so other defenders cannot fill the gaps.

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