The Saracens centre explains how to be successful without the ball


Brad Barritt: How to
 organise a defence

Saracens have long been famed for their ‘wolfpack’ defence and Brad Barritt, who won 26 caps for England, is often at the heart of it. Here the centre highlights the key ingredients for any successful defence…


“Key to a successful defence is unity, trust and communication amongst the three or four players around the tackle zone. You’re working in unison. The longer you play with people, the more instinctively you work together, whether to press up or down or move side to side. You need to stay connected and if you step out of the line, you must trust the guy inside you.”


“There’s only so much a side can do with the ball if your defence is watertight. A key attribute is executing the technical hit properly. That boils down to speed of ball and whether the opposition are on the front foot busting the gain-line. If you can keep them behind that, 
you can set your defence, have numbers on their feet and make an offensive shot.”


“When I tackle, I use the same leg and shoulder to get the most drive. Players need to be able to tackle 
with both shoulders, for safety and to be more reactive to a player stepping you. Rugby has also evolved. Teams now often commit two to the collision – one to target the legs and the second to target the ball, to 
rip it out or prevent an offload.”



“Decision-making around the breakdown is so important. Each decision has a repercussion in defence if you have one less tackler on his feet. It could be the difference between them having numbers for an overlap, or conceding through a soft tackle and offload.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine.

Every month Rugby World features advice from professional players and coaches on specific skills.

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