Archive for Defensive Drills


Rugby Defence – The Sliding Defence

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Following a recent email to a few hundred amateur rugby coaches, I asked what their two burning questions about coaching a rugby team were and I was overwhelmed by the response. There were several questions centering around rugby defence and in particular coaching a sliding defence. Here’s one of them,

Q. “What is the best way to teach sliding defence? and on the whole,
is this the best defensive structure to use?”

Firstly I would have to say that most professional coaches would mix and match their defensive structure, depending on which area of the field they are in and the quality of their players.

For instance, if you’re in your opponents red zone, you can afford to condense your line and  put pressure on them for the first few tackles. As they advance up the field your defence would spread out more and go for man on man. Of course if your blessed with loads of speed in your outside backs then you can afford to leave a bigger gap and trust the ‘Slide Defence’

The main coaching points when teaching a slide defence are:

1. Line Speed

2. Always keep your body position facing forward (never turn sideways to run)

3. You only slide when the ball goes past you.

4. The talk MUST come from the inside man

If these points are carried out you can defend a large space with less defenders than attackers, the emphasis being on the inside man talking and pushing the line out.

With regard to “Is this the best structure to use” I would have to say I would primarily coach man on man and only use the slide if your caught short and have to scramble or you have an abundance of speed in your side and they can afford to condense the line.

Rather than explain the drills I think it’s better that you watch them and look for the coaching points. The first few examples show the slide working fine and the last clip shows how it can go horribly wrong if you don’t get it right.

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Give it a try and let me know if you have anymore questions about rugby defence.

Neil Harmon

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