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Tuesday Jun 21, 2016

Rugby Tactics: How Saracens Wolf Pack Defence is Influencing England

Rugby Tactics: How Saracens Wolf Pack Defence is Influencing England

This week, as part of our ongoing collaboration with TheDeadBallArea, we continue our look at Saracens’ highly effective defensive system, focusing on their use of Exit Strategies and how their Wolf Pack defence is now influencing England under Paul Gustard.

Previously we looked at Saracens’ Wolf pack defence and the impact it had on the Premiership final against Exeter. This time we’re going to look at how Saracens use exit strategies to gain territory and turn defensive situations into attack.

We’re also going to look at how the Saracens “Wolf Pack” defence is now influencing England, as Paul Gustard continues his role as England Defence coach.

It’s worth noting how Saracens break from tradition by sending players up out of the defensive line on the kick chase, trusting them to pressurise the kick receiver enough to either make a mistake or allow their team to organise its defensive line as they advance.

Again we see how key decision making is to this, with both Duncan Taylor and Owen Farrell deciding when to break ranks and shoot out of the line. Both weigh up the risk against the reward and choose which offers the greater return.

When looking at England it’s interesting to note that players like James Haskell, whose club Wasps use a similar blitz defence system, have had no problem adapting to the new structure in the England set up whereas players like Luther Burrell, who usually plays under a drift defence system, struggled to adapt.

This shows us that the concept of the blitz defence is simple, yet training oneself to make those decisions under pressure and building that trust within the team can be incredibly difficult.

As always we hope you enjoy the videos and we’d love to hear what you think of them in the comments below. Alternatively if there is something in a game you’ve spotted you’d like us to break down let us know.

About The Deadballarea

An Englishman living in France, Graeme Forbes runs Rugby Analysis website,

An IRB qualified coach, in his spare time he helps coach a junior men’s team in Paris. You can catch him on twitter lazily re-tweeting other peoples comments and the Green and Gold Rugby website where he contributes Super 15 and Wallabies based analysis articles.


  • thedeadballarea
    11:25 AM 22/06/2016

    yeah, line speed is a huge element of this. If the tackle line can beat the attacking line to the gain line, or better get over it then half of your job is done - hence i's so impressive when Kruis shoots out the line and stops Leicester another 10 metres behind the gain line. Chiefs and New Zealand iirc run it a little differently because they then jockey off the attacker and are happy to drift once they've covered the initial ground - but I may need to have a look and confirm i'm right there. Thanks for taking he time to check and comment - it's much appreciated.


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