“If you tackle soft you play soft”
“Defence won them the game”
“If they don’t score we can’t lose”- just some comments coaches and players use when talking about defence.
Although some people find defence boring, if you haven’t got the ball that’s all you can do- you must be organized enough to go and get the ball back.
Four main points of a defensive line:
- Speed of the line
- Win the Collision and stop the ball.
- Slow the speed of the ball down or even better get a turnover.
- If you don’t win the ball, then you must reset and start all over again.
All four points are interlinked and form a domino style effect to the sequence of a defensive line.
For e.g. if your line speed is good then the chances of you winning the collision are greater, if you win the collision and control the tackle then you will be able to significantly slow down the ball (or better still steal the ball) which in turn will give you more time to reset your defensive line well in order to move forward fast again for the next tackle.
On the other hand, if you have no line speed and the opposition are dictating to you then they will probably win the contact and fall to the ground on their terms which means they will quickly recycle the ball giving you no time to reset your defensive line to make the next tackle and so the sequence continues.
Speed of the line
It is possible for a team to “attack” when defending by aggressively meeting the opposition when they are in possession. Communication is important here, so that everyone moves forward together at the right time (no offside), using the same defence and nominating the ball carrier.
The speed of the defending team can limit the momentum of the attacking team and make it more difficult for them to execute their plays. It will also decrease the time in which the attackers have time to think and plan their options as well as limit the space in which to move. The forward movement of the defensive line is critical and will also assist a tackle and winning the collision.
Win the collision and stop the ball
Each player must be able to tackle which will maximize the team defensive pattern. Individual practice will minimise ineffective tackling which is an absolute must, a player who can select the right tackle technique at the right time is an invaluable members of any team.
Do that and the chances of winning the collision will be greater.
Slow the speed of the ball down or even better get a turnover
Once you have dominated your opponent your next job is to get to your feet as quickly as possible and look to steal the ball or slow the recycle significantly. Practising the different techniques at the ruck will give your teammates more time to reset the defensive line and get into the correct position.
If you don’t win the ball then hopefully you have significantly slowed the recycle of possession for the opposition giving your teammates time to reset in the correct position. This means getting the tight five around the ruck and the faster defenders on the edge and also giving every player the time to look up and communicate with each other and nominate the next attacker or play.
If you get this sequence right then it’s odds on that the attacking will get no further than phase two before they either kick the ball away or use slow ball options which are not very taxing and are easy to defend.
Of course there are different defensive lines, the most commonly used are the up & out line and up & in line and there different mindsets and principles applied to both. Search ruckingball to read further.