Rugby: Pre-Contact Circuit

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  • Brief your players, but keep it brief!
  • In each grid there will not be two channels. In each of the two channels there are two players with a tackle bag and two players binding with their back to the runner. The players binding will be leaning/driving against a tackle shield (similar to how they would be during a maul). The shield will provide support and resistance just before and during the runners hit.
  • The first player starts and runs to the player with the tackle bag and makes a tackle before moving on.
  • After the 2nd tackle they runs to bind with the 2 players and drives them across the line, their bind should result in their head between the hips of the two players in front of him and his shoulders in contact with the from two players backsides. The players driving position should be low and the hit proportionate. When the 3 players cross the line, one of the 2 binding players takes over and continues to run up the other channel, with the first running player now binding with the other remaining player and taking up a driving position against the shield.
  • Change players around to ensure that every player has an opportunity to play different roles.


You don't have to focus on all of the following coaching points, just the ones that you feel are in line with your training goals. Don't forget that you can have your own coaching points!

  • The tempo of the exercise is high, as many players are moving and as involved as possible.
  • Players hit the bags making a strong contact with their shoulder, their foot position promotes driving through the tackle, closing their arms around the bag upon contact.
  • Following a tackle the player gets to their feet quickly.
  • If needed, remind players about how to tackle safely.
  • Players approach the Maul situation safely with a change in foot-speed to safely, yet with force, join the maul.
  • Players in the maul use good communication to work together as a unit to drive forward.
  • Maul foot-speed and direction is controlled.
  • Body position at the maul is low, using the strength of the legs combined with body weight to drive forward.
  • Variation: Place a ball at the back of the maul, the joining player has to legally stay bound while placing the ball on their hip and driving forward. Communication will have to change to take into account the presence of the ball and how to control it. The ball carrier can now spin off the back of the maul and score just over the line, before another player begins their circuit.



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Flip It

Be brief when telling the players the laws of this game, it's important to get them moving quickly. This is not a contact game. Break your players into two teams, giving each team their own colour of bibs if necessary. One team goes to attack, and one to defence. Nominate a Scrum Half for each team. There is no kicking in this game. Normal laws of rugby apply e.g. a forward pass will result in the ball being turned over to the opposition. If an attacking player is touched: they must go to ground, present the ball, two of their teammates ruck over (staying over the ball), and the Scrum Half moves the ball for the next phase of attack. When you start playing this game make sure that the defence is employing your defensive pattern around the ruck. As the game develops consider telling the defenders that they must have one or more players at the back of the ruck, if they are not fast enough to do this - push them back 10 meters. It’s important that defenders are employing their defensive pattern behind the primary defensive line. Have attacking players do what they normally would at the ruck. Depending on your goals decide on the number of touches you wish to allow e.g. unlimited is not a bad option as mistakes will be made! When you feel the time is appropriate, usually during a ruck, blow you whistle and should FLIP IT – kicking in or throwing in a second ball to the back 3/2 defenders on the team currently in defence OR just kick it behind the defenders. The defensive team goes, without hesitation, into attack. The team that was attacking goes into defence and you or an assistant coach remove the other ball from play when you can. Ideally you might have two balls with different markings. Don't hesitate to shape the game to focus on your session goals, and let us and other coaches know what worked for you!

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