Defence plays a big part in having a successful season. Defence is made up of your tackle technique, your systems, comms (communication), spacing, work rate, line integrity and just genuine physicality and attitude to win the ball back. In order to be competitive and tick some of the important boxes I have attached clips of my own team's drills that I use:
1) Your team needs to have a solid tackle technique which is one-on-one tackles and also having a good double hit system.
Tackle technique drill
2) Your defence line must always be connected. When players are not shooting out of the line by themselves, are always working together as a line and working very hard from the inside is what we call catching up on defence. Below is a drill I use with my university side that won the championship:
3) Now we talk about systems. I use three systems - The blitz, which is when we get off the line quickly with line speed to close attacking space down, shadow, when we defend with fewer numbers ( the call always comes from the outside, normally your winger) and the outside in defence which is a little bit more advanced. In my opinion, at schoolboy level, you can get away with using the blitz and shadow. You have to understand when we use the blitz. We use it when we are evenly matched on numbers or we have more numbers than them. When do we use the shadow or drift? We use that when we are numbers less on defence and we also use the touchline as a defender with the shadow system.
Linespeed drill 6 defenders vs 4 attackers
Shadow drill 5 defenders vs 3 attackers use the touchline (NO LINESPEED HERE AT ALL)
4) Ruck defence is when we defend close to ruck and what the roles of the 3 defenders close to the ruck area. We also have to fold - folding is when we get defenders into the line and there are different folding systems that always make up a quality rugby conversation. For me, folding is all about how quickly we can get defenders into the line without having to work around defenders.
Pillar A or 1 next to the ruck defends the pick and go (1metre away from the ruck)
Pillar B or 2 next to pillar A defender the running 9 (2m away from A)
Pillar C takes the lineup and we all come up as a connected line (3m away from B)
Ruck defence drill
5) Team defence ( Putting it all together). Here we look at how we can use the touchline as a defender. Watch how the non-bib team uses the touchline as an extra defender to win the ball back.
It is important that, when the opposing team breaks the line when you coach, you let them play because in a real-time game they will have to adjust. So let them play and see how they recover and get back into the line. Watch how the team in bibs defend. Patience, recover from linebreaks and trust the system.
Also, do not forget that you have to train and coach how you defend from a set piece, tryline defence, pick and go’s, covering the backfield, transitioning from attack to defence, swimming skills and defending the decoy and block runners, who stay on the edges, when and who can enter etc. As coaches we also have to be prepared in terms of knowing our opposition - do they play off 9 or do they play off 10 and plan accordingly around that. That is why defence is so important in any team.
There is a lot to cover but what I have shared with you is a great start. All the best for the season ahead.
Attack sells tickets and defence wins you championships!
Katleho Lynch - 1stXV Coach at Queens College