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Defensive Shape

Difficulty: Advanced
  • Defense
  • Running


To have players work as a team to prevent the offensive team from scoring.

What to Coach

The best defensive shape in rugby is a flat line.  Flat line defense is when players are lined up across the width of the field in a straight line.  Players should work together to keep this line when moving forward and backwards on the field.

Step 1:  Demonstrate and instruct a flat line defense.

Step 2: Have players line up in a flat line defense and have them jog in every direction as a team in a flat line.  Begin with them holding hands.

Step 3: A great teaching tip is to have players “cross the street” on defense.  Be sure players are looking both ways (right and left) before advancing or retreating to make sure their entire team is together.

Step 4: Encourage players to constantly communicate to keep the flat line together.  Some common terms are:

  1. Use “Up” to instruct the line to move forward
  2. Use “Back” to instruct the line to move backward
  3. Use “Slide Left” or “Slide Right” for side movements

Coaching Notes

Game Progressions

  1. Set up five different defensive lines up the length of the field. On the instructor’s signal, have all the players move together as a defensive unit.  The addition of other lines adds an increased challenge.
  2. Add in offensive players to challenge the flat line defense. Have players practice keeping a flat line as two to four offensive players move up and down the field with a rugby ball.

Key Concepts

  1. Make sure players are communicating to stay together.
  2. Make sure players are checking their position at all times.

Log Activity

Log Activity (New)

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Please provide a brief summary of the session and any additional information relevant for reporting. Things to include could be the number of volunteers present, types of resources provided, and follow-up/next steps.