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Basic Rugby Drills and Routines

Suketu Mehta Nov 4, 2018
Rugby is as much brain, as it is brawn. Here are a few basic rugby drills for forwards and tacklers, to improve skills required in the sport.
Rugby is an old sport that has its beginnings in England. Rugby could be termed as the purest form of sport, as it requires a player to possess tremendous strength and speed together, wearing minimum protective gear, a combination not generally seen in other forms of sport.
It is a highly physical sport demanding top-notch fitness levels from players. Surprisingly, this sport is not at all brawn and a player does require a significant amount of skill as well. Rugby drills are designed to enable players inculcate these skills among them. Here are a few basic rugby drills.

Defense vs Attack

This drill involves quick passing among forwards and also tests the ability of defense players to tackle attackers from inside the shoulder as they are running. Requirements for this drill would be a ball and about 11 cones for marking purposes.

The Drill

  • Arrange all attacking players in a diagonal line. Let defenders stand all together at a considerable distance away from the attackers on their right .
  • Pass the ball to the attacker on the extreme right.
  • With the ball in hand, the attackers should run ahead in a straight line, passing the ball to the side.
  • As these attackers move forward, defenders should try to prevent them from scoring with a two handed tag.
  • The drill ends when either group succeeds.


  • Try increasing the number of defenders
  • Reduce space between markers and perform the drill in a shorter space to get players even more focused.
  • Give defenders more liberty in tackling attackers.
The coach should make sure attackers run straight and pass the ball around quickly. There must be communication and coordination among players of the same group.

Ball Presentation Drill

This is an exercise for kids and adults alike. It has a very simple setup and improves basic passing skills of a player. Requirements for this drill would be a ball and 4 cones acting as markers.

The Drill

  • Mark out a square shaped section using cones.
  • There will be one attacker and two defenders. All three of them will be arranged in a straight line, with the attacker on the border of the square and the defenders in front of him.
  • The attacker is the ball carrier and is in contact with the defender just ahead of him.
  • When the coach calls, the attacker tries to move forward.
  • The other defender comes in from behind to stop the attacker's momentum. Once stopped, the attacker should run and place the ball cleanly.

The attacker should make sure that he has his head held up and not down all the time. He should also move ahead using small steps with his back straight.

Game Line Drill

This is done to improve defensive play around the fringes of a ruck. Requirements for this drill would be 3 balls, 3 tackle bags, and cones for markings.

The Drill

  • In this drill there will be 9 attackers up against 6 defenders.
  • The attackers need to arrange themselves in a horizontal line, with defenders in front arranged in a similar manner.
  • Use cones to mark 3 breakdown areas on the field. A ball needs to be kept in each of these places. Label the breakdown areas as 1, 2, and 3, and let players know about this.
  • The coach will shout out a number and all players must run to that particular breakdown area, taking positions.
  • The half back then passes the ball to attackers.
  • The defenders need to protect the fringes and prevent any attacker from crossing the line.
  • The attackers on the other hand, must use all their skill and try crossing the gain line.
  • On completion of the attack, the coach calls out a different number and the drill continues.


  • Change positions of the breakdown areas.
  • Change the number of breakdown areas and try to mix up the calls.
  • Exploit the defense by getting in the attacking option for attackers.
There should be at least 2 defenders on either side of the ruck and the third defender should be against the first receiver. Each group must communicate within themselves and also exhibit coordination. Attackers should try figuring out different options and should have good depth in their positioning.

3 Point Tackling Drill

This basic drill aims at improving tackling skills of players using both shoulders from all angles. Requirements for this drill would be a ball, 1 agility pole, and 3 cones.

The Drill

  • Arrange 3 cones and the agility pole in a diamond formation.
  • Get 3 players to stand behind each of the cones.
  • One player comes to the center with the ball and on the coach's call, runs around the agility pole to come back to the place he started.
  • When he arrives, he is met with a side-on tackle by a player from one of the sides.
  • The defender, after making the tackle, secures the ball and runs around the agility pole.
  • When he arrives back to the center, he is met with a front on tackle from a defender behind the cone.
  • This player then collects the ball and runs around the agility pole and is again tackled by a defender at the center.
  • The drill continues till every player has tackled and carried the ball around the pole.
The coach should ensure the players have the right head position to prevent injuries, and all tackling must be started using shoulders.
Practice your exercises and your skills will definitely improve. Drills mentioned here are just some basic ones and coaches can themselves devise practice drills, which they feel will improve their player's ability.