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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Pressure Ball

Make sure your warm-up area is marked out before the players arrive. Depending on the number of players you have at training, mark out several warm-up grids. The size of your grid is a suggestion, but around 10 meters x 10 meters. The bigger the grid, the easier it is for the attackers - they have more space. The smaller the grid, the easier it is for the defenders. Break your players into two groups, pads and passers. One third of your players will be passers; the rest will be on the pads. Have one team quickly demonstrate the game to the other players. In each grid have four players on pads, and two passers. You could have more passers; I'll leave this to your judgment. The job of the players on the pads is to put pressure on the ball carrier, to surround them and stop them from passing the ball. The players on the pads are also trying to force the passers to make mistakes e.g. drop the ball, throw a bad pass etc. The passers have to move the ball around the grid, avoiding the pads. Passers can pass the ball in any direction. Players on the pads should have a little fun, and within reason push the passers around a little. You can award points for each successful pass, and points to the defending team on the pads for every occasion when a ball carrier is surrounded or the ball carriers make a mistake. Don't forget to change the players around, and to give players on the pads a go at passing the ball under pressure. Law Variations: You could insist that passers have only 3 second to make their pass, or risk losing a point to the defending team.

Warm Up

Scoring Zones

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 defense. 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.The defence must commit three players to every ruck, or risk an infringement which will see tem pushed back ten meters. The ball must be moved from the ruck within 5 seconds. Make sure that the defense is employing your defensive pattern around the ruck.  Throughout the game the coach call the point of attack e,g, attack RED ZONE or Zone 2. The coach can also call the scoring zone, Score At Zone Yellow or Zone 3. As the game progresses have the players call the point of attack, and the scoring zones - but they must do this early and they must committ to that attack for a period of time. 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! On a mistake or after a period of time, turn the ball over so that both teams get time in attack and defence. Don't hesitate to shape the game to focus on your session goals, and let us and other coaches know what worked for you!

Warm Up


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