Rugby: L With Defenders

Your tips and session ideas have really brought some interest back...
Eifion, Rugby Coach


  • Keep your player briefing, brief! It's important to get your players working as quickly as possible.
  • Lets get the ball and the players moving with lateral passing through the hands.
  • Each training area only needs one ball, and that ball should be with any of most players.
  • Tell players to move forward, passing the ball down the line - they do not need to wait on any call by you.
  • When the ball gets to the last receiver, that player will pass it to the first receiver in the next line - they should advance without delay.
  • Allow the players to moving the ball along the lines.
  • After you feel the players are comfortable, tell them that they can be as creative as they like with respect to passing e.g. miss passes, switches etc.
  • Introduce one defender, let the defender drift - but they must start from around 10 meters back.
  • When you are happy with one defender, add two, and finally three defenders.
  • Keep the same defenders in place for a about 10 attacks, then rotate.
  • Allow the players to discover, though questioning, the best possible way to respond to what they see in terms of moving the ball.
  • Players should change positions in the line after each run.
  • Don't forget to change out the defenders.


Don't feel that you have to focus on all of the following coaching points, you may have your own. Select the points that most closely match your overall training and session goals.

  • Keep the tempo of this exercise high, but only after the players have been able to succeed at a lower tempo. There is no point in moving faster and compromising players experiencing success.
  • Good communication is vital to define roles, position, expectations, direction of the pass, the type of the pass, the timing of the pass etc.
  • Communication should be efficient, effective, and encouraging.
  • Mistakes will happen, while we work to minimize mistakes - don't over focus on them! If you do, your players may well magnify their own mistakes. What's important is the next pass, the next catch! You as a coach have to give the players the freedom to make mistakes, you also have the responsibility for helping players adjust their passing style and decision making etc. to minimize the possibility that the pass will not go astray.
  • Passes need to be weighted correctly in terms of speed, distance, and accuracy.
  • Receivers have their hands out.
  • Players do not spin the ball when there is no need.
  • Players use soft hands to move the ball quickly. Passing, not firing the ball.
  • It is only a good pass when it has been completed, and it is only a completed pass when the receiver catches the ball.
  • The ball should be caught in both hands, at a position that is best suited to move the ball on quickly.
  • Set targets for your payers, but make sure that targets can be achieved. It is vitally important that players experience success and feel a sense of achievement at every session.
  • Players should make use of passing calls e.g. M1 at an appropriate time and for a good reason.
  • Have fun, allow the players to experiment and discover attacking and passing options - but don't allow discoveries to go unnoticed.
  • Help your players to develop a decision making framework to support their passing and attack play.
  • Keep players moving, breaking only for very quick corrections and question and answer periods - keep players in position.
  • Use differentiation with respect to selecting your groups and profile players based on what you see. Use this exercise to set future training goals, individual to each player.



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