Coaching defence

(Rugby News Service) Thursday 21 June 2007

Notes taken by Lee Smith, IRB Regional Development Manager for Oceania, at a presentation by John Mitchell

1. Statistical evidence shows that defence wins games and that if time is pressing it is better spent on defence disproportionately to get a result.

2. Patterns and individual roles should be planned for scrum, line-out and phase play. Phase play may be modified for those on the right and left sides of the field.

3. Align in relation to teammates, not getting ahead of those inside, and opponents, being in a position to move up and across into the tackle.

4. Get off the line quickly to close down time and space.

5. Go directly forward after positioning in the channel between 2 attackers.

6. After closing down most of the space use "reactive agility" to keep moving at a slower speed so that adjustments can be made to the behaviour of the attack.

7. Tackle to contest the ball based on the situation. This may depend on the "match-up" with the relative strengths of the ball carrier and the tackler being taken into account. The overall aim is to regain possession, but this may take some time, so initially the aim is to stop forward movement and contest the ball. This may be by the tackler or the tackler and support players. In this second example the tackler stops the forward movement by taking away the legs and the support player support the ball.

8. If a pass is made the defender maintains the line for at least 2 further passes to defend cutback moves.

9. The quality of tackles can be graded and points allocated based on effectiveness. The highest mark can be given for a turnover, the next for preventing forward movement and delaying the recycling of the ball, the next for preventing forward movement, the next for completing a tackle and no marks given for a missed tackle.

10. Players should move into tackles with their arms in the ready position. Players with their arms down react by raising them, causing high tackles.

11. As play continues it becomes more and more important not to infringe because, in infringing, the player negates the effort of all those in the preceding play.

12. As a guide at the post-tackle our shoulders must be under theirs.