top of page


Scroll down for more 

I have used this activity to help teams become familiar with playing to an attacking shape. Key points to achieving this is the understanding of how the small groups known as pods work together to offer variation through structure. An understanding of the roles within this structure can be emphasised in a game like situation that calls for players to make decisions under pressure.

I would look to use this sort of an activity in conjunction with development of the skills needed to be effective.

Shape Touch

Objective: To score tries while keeping to a team attacking shape.

Equipment: 1-2 rugby balls

Group Size: 2 teams of 10 plus, enough coloured bibs and/or sashes for two teams.

Area: Half field


Explanation: In attack the green pod and 1 navigator operate as a unit.  So does the blue pod and 1 navigator. All remaining players have a free license. Any back, bar a pink player, can be a navigator. One team has coloured sashes and the other has bibs. Attacking team can continue to attack until the ball is turned over through an error or so judged by the coach.

Normal off side rule applies.



  • Navigators can change pods as required. 

  • Pods can disconnect on a line break or to support a breakdown but must look to reconnect after a maximum of 2 plays.

  • Attack on a two hand touch must accurately place the ball with at least 2 players over the ball (the 2nd can play the ball)

  • Attack on a one hand touch must offload immediately. 

  • Double points for players in pink scoring.

  • Defence - At the breakdown must be tackler + 1 (off feet)

  • Transition into shape after turnover within 2 breakdowns.

  • After scoring team in possession turns to attack far tryline.



  • Coach can introduce a second ball.

  • Kicking allowed, however kicking team must regain possession.

  • Allow Pod players to change pods (assign 1 colour)

  • Introduce contact and competition for the ball at the breakdown (advanced).

Tempo Wave.png

This is a very simple activity that I would introduce as part of a 'passing in motion' program. It would be an advancement on basic pass waves with the focus on staying square and using the ball to beat the defender. All elements of the basic pass need to be acceptable before moving onto this activity.

Common faults that will be highlighted will include, poor targeting, players leaving too early. players not offering targets and players who follow or fall off the pass.

Tempo Wave
Objective: To hold the drifting defenders by running square and moving the ball quickly at speed. Scoring at the far end of the grid.
Equipment: 2 + rugby balls, about 8 cones or markers
Group Size: Min 6 Max 2 teams?
Area: Approx 30m x 30m 
Drill Explanation: Players line up as attackers and defenders (1 & 2 ). Coach will role the ball out and the first attacker acting as a scrumhalf will race out to control it and pass it through the chain of attackers who are all now moving forward. Defender 1 cannot move until the scrumhalf has passed the ball. Defender 2 cannot move until defender 1 moves. The aim for the defence is to stop the ball getting to the end player. For the attack they must stay square and win the race to the intercept points with the ball, getting it to the last player who should be free.
Over-chasing defenders can be beaten on the inside.
Key Coaching Points: Attackers to be running low and over the ball. They must have their hands up and meet it early outside the plane of their body. From here they must quickly transfer it across their body in one motion. All players should be running at pace.
Variations/Progression: Add more players in attack and defence. 
Increase the area size and/or pass distance. 
Introduce a goal line defender who can only defend laterally.
Hold up visual cues at the end of the grid for attackers to identify as catching and passing.
This handling activity is simple yet very effective. It highlights pass accuracy, depth, timing and alignment while in a controlled space. This allows both the players and the coach and opportunity to tweak any of these areas without the physical pressure of the defence.
Players who tend to position slowly can struggle in this activities particularly if time pressure is applied by the coach. Players positioning late tend to get their timing wrong or struggle to find the correct space.
Pole Pass 1
Objective: (a) To encourage players to run straight. (b) To give players an understanding of depth adjustments on longer and shorter passes
Equipment: 8-10 poles (can be coloured with cones)
Group Size: Min 4 
Area: Approx 30m x 15m 
Drill Explanation: With poles set up as in diagram the coach will call out a series of 3 colours to indicate the channels the attackers are to run through. Standard set up would allow for three players plus a halfback to work as a unit.
Key Coaching Points: Be sure each player catches and passes before running through their poles. Treat this as the tackle line, encouraging each player to take the ball and pass it on as close to this imaginary line as possible. 
With the longer passes the ball will be in the air longer and this will require a slightly deeper set up and the ball being passed back a little to compensate. The aim being to develop a players pass to allow them to be flatter on these longer passes while still having time to catch and pass the ball on.
Variations/Progression: Stage 2 will introduce one or two defenders to bring an element of decision making to this activity.
Post Drill.png
This is one of my favourite activities and one that is often different each time I run it as players have different strengths and weaknesses  to work on.
Putting a little detail into the running lines will help players to get a greater appreciation of what they are trying to achieve with their strike plays.
Post Lines
Objective: (To give players an understand of time and space while running some simple lines of attack
Equipment: 5-6 rugby balls, A set of goal posts (protectors on)
Group Size: 5+ 
Area: Goal line area as in diagram allowing around 10m either side 
Drill Explanation: A player (preferably a halfback) will pass from the ground to the first receiver who will be opposite the first upright approximately 5m back (This distance can change with the experience/skill of the players involved). This player will pass to the next player who will pass to the last. This is the first and most basic step. Each player opposite a post must keep square and pass before the post and finish inside the post (That is to the left in this diagram). The last player must take the ball before the try-line.
Skill Points: Be sure to get the players to keep square. Finishing inside the post will help with this.
Encourage players to start flat and leave as the player before them is about to catch the ball.
Players should all have their hands up ready to receive.
The fun starts when we encourage our players to change their line of attack. Initially this will come from the 2nd receiver who will bounce into space inside the post, often referred to as ‘unders’. Once into that space I would encourage them to look to bounce out again to connect with the outside player who will also run in slightly in to connect. All the time look to keep the first receiver running square. Repeat with the 2nd receiver runner to the outside of the post in an ‘overs’ line.
A further adaption is to place a player behind the 2nd goal post and have them step left or right to indicate a space for the 2nd receiver to read and identify to attack.
Placing a 3rd player behind the first line is a great way to educate your players on their running lines for block plays, backdoor passes or any variations you as a coach may have.
D 1 side Ruck Fold.png
This is a simple activity and one that is a useful addition to your defence sessions. It has the benefit of working both sides of the ball (attack and defence), full player participation and an intensity that can bring the added pressure of fatigue into this activity.
One Side Fold Defence
Objective: This activity is all about getting our players to work hard on the fold or ‘around the corner’ as many may call it. It stresses the need for players who are under defensive pressure to communicate and help their team mates to fold and fill the line.
Equipment: Cones to indicate a ruck, at least 3-4 rugby balls.
Group Size: 10 v 10 
Area: Approximately half field around 35m with a sideline
Explanation: The initial setup has the attack already in place. The defence have two players in front of the attack and close to the ruck. Other defenders are grouped on the ‘short’ side of the ruck. On a signal from the coach the two defenders will call their teammates into position. Since these two players represent outside backs they will move out as their support arrives. However one defender must remain on the short side in the ‘A’ position. The coach will blow a whistle and the attack can play.
Rules: The attack look to breach the defence in one phase. In the early stages the defence are looking to get a two hand touch to stop the attack. The attack will only attack the one way for this activity. No kicking in the early stages
The defence must be onside and if possible I look to run the activity along a marked line to help here.
How the fold fill their positions is up to the requirements of the coach. Some may have their B defender fill first, some may have the A or even the C. This may also be dictated by the attack shape and what threats are around the ruck etc.
Variations/Progression: The coach can vary when the whistle is blown for the attack to start. This can bring a greater urgency to the defence and can help replicate fast or slow ball availability.
As with any defence activities it is important that the attack work equally as hard so I would encourage them to look for ways to unlock the defence. Things like their shape in attack, numbers close to the ruck, a running 9, deception through running lines etc.
Further intensity can be introduced by:
  • Allowing a 2-3 phase attack. 
  • Bring in a 1st phase kick option.
  • Full tackle in defence.
  • Reduce/increase numbers in defence.
bottom of page