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Sevens Defence Activities


  1. Align deep enough to move into the tackle.
  2. Align in a staggered formation so that the defender can see what is happening inside.
  3. Align on the inside shoulder of the attacker.
  4. Defend inside – out in most situations.
  5. Using outside in defence:
    • When the numbers in defence are greater than the numbers in attack and there is time and the opportunity to tackle the ball carrier as they receive the ball.
    • A specific example is when there is an attack close to the goal line when the attack is using pick and go, one pass attacks and two pass attacks.
    • When, in Sevens, reverse drift defence can be used because there is no offside line. Split vision on the ball and the ball carrier. Re-align when an offside line is created.


  1. Move forward at pace to close down time and space.
  2. Slow down to adjust to the ball carrier’s evasion.
  3. Step to align directly on the ball carrier.
  4. Sink low and drive from low to high into the target area. The target area is just below the thigh on the buttock.
  5. Head in the neutral position and eyes open to adjust to the ball carrier.
  6. Use the head fake as a decoy to raise the ball carrier’s centre of gravity.
  7. Same leg, same shoulder so you drive through the target and not to the target making sure, in coming from the side, the tacklers head is behind – “cheek on cheek” – NOT in frontwhich can twist the neck and the tackled player’s knees can “punch” the tackler in the face.
  8. Drive the arms through and wrap the ball carrier’s legs to complete the tackle.


  1. Complete the tackle.
  2. Get to your feet.
  3. Contest the ball by:
    • Using the tackler’s option to gather the ball after allowing the tackled player to immediately play it while on the ground. The tackled player is out of play once this is done immediately or there is any delay.
    • Counter rucking.
    • Joining the defence line.
  4. Be alert to assisting at a dominant tackle.
  5. Create the opportunity for a dominant tackle by exploiting the over-commitment of the attack at past tackles so they are delayed and have fewer numbers enabling counter rucking.



  1. Have enough defensive stations so that players can work in pairs and threes at each position in the defensive line so that this is also a fitness activity.
  2. Use cones to mark out attack line, tackle line, offside line, defence line (defence line alignment) and gain/advantage line.
  3. Use cones to mark out:
    • The inside-out “sprint” zone;
    • The “Steady up” zone to force a decision on the attack. Keep feet moving; and
    • The “Step and impact” zone for a direct line into the ball carrier.
  4. Use tackle bags as ball carriers along the tackle line.
  5. Have groups of 2 alternating in the tackler role.


  1. Have players’ position in a staggered alignment so that they have peripheral vision to see what is happening inside them.
  2. Position with the inside foot up so that the first step is an inside-out line giving the ball carrier only the outside option.
  3. Turn the head to see what is happening inside.
  4. Have the players run the inside out line in the “sprint” zone making sure no defenders get ahead of those inside them.
  5. Have them reload after they reach the end of this zone.
  6. Add the “steady up” zone to the sprint zone and reload.
  7. Add the “impact” zone to these 2 zones and reload.


  1. Add the tackle on the tackle bags using groups of 3 with 2 alternating as tacklers and one holding the tackle bag.
  2. Hold with the holder’s knees into the tackle bag so that they are firm, and the bag doesn’t just fall over.
  3. Each tackler performs each step of the tackle progression 5 times before changing roles.
  4. Start low and move up into the tackle making contact just below the centre of gravity on the rump. It is a good idea to put a mark on the bag at this point. This encourages the tacklers to have their head in the neutral position to see this mark.
  5. Add drive with the legs as close to the bag as possible. “Plant” the leg and drive through.
  6. Add getting the shoulder “on”, same leg: same shoulder to maximize the leg drive.
  7. Add drive through the ball carrier not to the ball carrier.
  8. Head behind – “cheek to cheek”.
  9. Now and only now wrap with the arms by driving them directly forward and then coming together. The arms are not the means of tackling; they are the last step of a number of steps.
  10. Add getting into the space on the opposition’s side of the ball to delay the recycling of the ball.
  11. Add jackalling to recover the ball. Place the ball on the ground behind the bag.
  12. After each tackle the defenders reload out one position until they are at the end of the defence line after which they rejoin the line at the first defender’s post.



  1. In single file 2 groups of three oppose each other down a line.
  2. The first players in each group are 2-3metres apart and the first player in the attack group has a ball.
  3. On “Go” the ball carrier attacks and the first player in the other line tackles and jackals to recover the ball.
  4. This player is now the attacker who is defended by the next player in the other line.
  5. This player tackles and jackals and becomes the next ball carrier and so on.


Replace the tackle bags with attackers each with a ball.

  1. Have 1 defender at each position in the defensive line.
  2. Repeat the activity in which each pair, one defender and one attacker reload out to the next position after each tackle before making the next tackle out.
  3. Stay in the same teams.


  1. Alternate the roles – tackler and ball carrier.
  2. Double tackle - At each tackle the tackler who has just completed the previous tackle assists in making a double tackle:
    • The first tackler, who tackles low, has made room for the second tackler who can then come in on the ball as the ball carrier is turned towards him/her in the tackle.
    • The second tackler can rip the ball free or get inside the ball carriers’ arms and pull down or create a maul to get a turnover.
  3. If a ruck forms assess the situation to either:
    • Bind and drive beyond the ball to slow the oppositions re-cycle and regain possession (counter rucking) or
    • Jackal or
    • Join the defence line.

4. Chop, Chop, Kill

  • This is based on the numbers in attack, because they are keen to retain possession of the ball, committing more players than the defence to the post tackle/ ruck.
  • In this situation they tend to go to the ground or are slower to successive tackles.
  • The defence makes the tackle in the first 2 tackles but doesn’t commit to the contest for possession.
  • On the third tackle, or a tackle at which the delay has caused the attack to have fewer numbers, the defence commits greater numbers to bind and drive past the ball. (Counter rucking)
  • The players who join the ruck are those who have made the previous 2 tackles.

Defence from Ruck and Maul when the Attack uses Pick and Go:

The Set Up

  1. Start with a 15m X 15m grid on the goal-line.
  2. 2 teams of 5 – 5 attackers and 5 defenders depending on who wins the ball in play.
  3. To begin with the ball will not be contested at the tackle.

Defence pattern

The defence pattern will be based on the attacking halfback’s option-taking of which there are 2 – pass or run.

No kicking as this will result in kicking possession away in a very good field position.

1. Defence when halfback passes the ball.

  • Defence moves up except the defender of the passer, usually the first defender.
  • The next defender tackles the ball carrier outside in. This is from the ball carrier’s blind-side.
  • The ball carrier will be tackled at the feet of the first defender who, initially, hangs back and then moves into the post tackle to jackal, grab the ball etc.

2. Defence when the halfback runs.

For each step the halfback takes across the field the defence can take a pace forward cutting off the halfback’s running and passing options.


  1. Increase the grid to 25m long X 15m wide.
  2. Position the players on the halfway line of the grid and outside the touchline on one side of the grid.
  3. Position the halfbacks on the halfway line and the touchline with a number of balls.
  4. On the coaches call each team runs down the touchline and enters the grid from the goal line at opposite ends of the field.
  5. The halfback passes the ball to one team who become the attack; the opposition will be the defence.
  6. The defence will practice the defence as the play unfolds. Play will continue until the attack scores or the defence regains possession.
  7. The next step is for play to continue until either team scores.
  8. When there is a turnover in close quarter play either move the ball at least 2 passes to space before going forward or go immediately forward to take advantage of the opposition hesitating between attack and defence.
  9. Once the ball has been moved support in depth, linear support, not in width, lateral support.


  1. Increase the length of the grid to 25m and use the full width of the field.
  2. Have one defensive team and two attacking teams.
  3. Each attacking team attacks down one side of the grid. The defensive team defends across the whole width.
  4. Kick off to one side and the receiving team attacks.
  5. After the attack has ended immediately kick-off to the opposite side for that attack team to attack.
  6. After defending one side the defence must immediately defend the other side. This puts the defence under strain limiting numbers and enabling the counterattack to be successful.
  7. Base the counterattack on running at the city, where most of the defence are, and passing and supporting to the country, where the defence is not.
  8. Keep going for up to 6 plays.
  9. Rotate the groups around the one defensive role and the two attacking roles.