Transform your
team's season with
planned sessions

Use our expert plans or build your own using our library of over 1100+ drills, and easy-to-use tools.

Tips on breaking through a defence line?

Hi my name is Mac and i am a 8 man and i struggle to push through a defensive line when i have the ball due to how my coaches make us practice so i wanted to know tips on how to push/break through a defensive line when i have the ball.

Hi Mac,

Firstly, get used to working in pods (groups of 3 or 4) ideally to create a diversion which will create space and a gap for you to break the line. Working in pods will also get teammates to offer support when you have the ball so that if you don't break the line, you have support to contest for the ball.

At breakdown, look for fast balls off the number 9 - work round the corner and cut back into the line. Ideally you want to be making contact with third outside defender of the breakdown (aka first defender). 

When taking the ball from the pass, have your outside foot forward to spring off and push through the line. 

Going into contact, fend with the ball and sink your body low when going into contact (attack outside shoulder of the defender and fingertips to break through).

I hope this helps!


Hi Mac,

When it comes to breaking a defensive line I think the most crucial thing is not to simply run straight at a gap. This is very easy to defend and defenders can just line you up and hit you with a strong shoulder. 

The key to breaking line is the change in direction you make, as this will offset the defender and force them to attempt a tackle with a weak shoulder or arms. 

I have attached the perfect drill that I noticed was newly uploaded on Sportplan. Watch it right through for more progression.

Good Luck!

Running Lines To Break The Gain-Line

Video / Animation
Log in to view


This drill coaches players the lines they should run when receiving the ball in order to maximise the chance of them breaking the gain line.

  • Use a tackle bag to simulate where the ruck and offside line would be.
  • The players line up as if they were going to come "around the corner" to receive the ball.
  • Players should run an L shaped running line to get across the first defender and then footwork to get through the second defender.

Progression (0.49) - Add an extra pass to the drill

  • For the first receiver the drill is exactly the same in terms of the running line.
  • Then there is a second player on his outside shoulder who uses the same running line to beat the second defender.
  • The first receiver has a choice (1.19) - whether to go through the gain line and pass or pass before he gets to the gainline.

What is the gain line?

The gain line is an imaginary line in rugby parallel to the halfway line that is the back foot of the breakdown or the defences offsideline.

Coaching Points:
  • The focus should be on getting over the gain line.
  • When receiving the ball from the scrum half coach your players to get on the outside of the second defender. This way you take an extra defender out of the game.
  • Players should run an L shaped line and then have footwork rather than a big looping run.
  • Tell your players to make the change in direction as late as possible so the defence cant anticipate and line them up.
  • Make sure your players don’t over run the ball and that they are communicating to the player passing to them.

Join now for free

  • search our library of 1100+ rugby drills
  • create professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans
Join now for free
  • search our library of 1100+ rugby drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans