Good defence can make the difference between winning and losing a rugby match. It doesn’t matter how strong you attack, how many tries you score, or whether you have the world’s most accurate goal kicker if your defence is so leaky that a whole team of plumbers couldn’t fix it. Good defence stops the opposition from scoring, and it also frustrates them and causes them to make silly errors that lead to your team turning over the ball.

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There are rugby drills you can physically practice to improve your team’s defensive game, but the key to effective defending is mental. These tips should help improve your players’ attitude.


This really is the lynchpin of everything, not only in sport but in life in general. Make sure your players hear each other and that they are clear. If there is room for interpretation, you risk an outcome that is different from the one you had in mind.


Speed is of the essence when getting players organised on the pitch, whether from set-piece or break-down. Practice drills from resources such as so that everyone knows what is going on.


Knowing the plan is one thing, but knowing when to change it and adapt the game in response to the attack is another skill altogether and takes practice. The sport’s best players have mastered this skill.

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Even when they’re tiring, you need you players to be committed. That goes for every last tackle, and then they need to be straight back on their own feet.


Players who take pride in the technical aspect of their game beyond bringing the player down at all costs will tend to be more effective. Doing things properly will also reduce the likelihood of injury.

Team Players

Supporting your team-mates covers physical aspects like backing up your player and providing cover in addition to motivating and encouraging each other before, during and after the game.

Keep Moving Forward

Ultimately, attack is the best form of defence, so keeping the ball in hand and pushing forward through the phases to cut down on opponents’ time and space will reduce their opportunities.

Work together as a squad because even the best individuals don’t shine if they don’t gel with their teammates.