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Application of the Principles of Attack and Defence

Principles in General:

Definition of Principles:

“A principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning”

So the principles of attack and defence in rugby are fundamental truths that are the basis of what has to be achieved to play the game successfully and they are linked to each other by a sequential “chain of reasoning” that is also an order of priority. By getting the first one right you are better able to perform the second and so on.

What are we going to achieve in attack and defence?

In attack teams are going directly forward to take away the time and space of the defence so that the defence is unable to react successfully.

Equally the defence is doing the same putting pressure on the attack.

This creates a contest on and over the gain line to gain the greatest advantage.

In attack getting over the gain line creates momentum to go forward and score.

In defence stopping the attack before they get over the gain line allows the defence to defend with momentum taking away the attack’s time and space forcing them into inferior playing options. The defence takes advantage of this and, eventually, regains possession and attacks.

This is unlike the past in Sevens when teams retreated to create space.

Teams who retreat to make space concede the gain line and allow the defence to seize the initiative.

Let’s now have a look at the options that have emerged for Sevens.


In attack the aim is for the ball carrier to have the remaining six attacking players in a position to move forward to support the ball carrier offering receiving options.


In defence the aim is for the tackler to make a tackle with the remaining six defenders in a position to move forward to support the tackler, slow down the attack and regain possession.