DVD from legendary defensive coach Phil Larder
Tackling skills every player needs to master


Who is Phil Larder?

"Simply the best" (Sir Clive Woodward on Phil Larder).

Phil Larder MBE played rugby union for Broughton Park and Sale before moving to League and playing for Oldham and then Whitehaven.

He coached the England rugby league team at the 1995 World Cup and the Great Britain and Ireland side which toured New Zealand in 1996.

He then moved to union and coached Sale before moving to Leicester Tigers. He helped the Tigers to a four-year winning run in the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup victories in 2001 and 2002.

He was the first specialist coach appointed by Clive Woodward in 1997, and was appointed defence coach.

His defensive strategy underpinned the team's victory at the World Cup in the 2003 World Cup.

He was appointed defence coach for the British and Irish Lions tours of 2001 and 2005.

Dear Coach,

A correct, safe tackle technique is essential for anyone wishing to play rugby to a good standard – and the crucial factor behind England's World Cup triumph in 2003.

My DVD Knock Them Down will show you how to improve the tackling skills of every player in your team no matter what their position or ability.

You may think your players have the basic tackle skills already – don't be fooled! It's a mistake many coaches make. The truth is that many players are able to hide their inability to make 1v1 tackles in a match, even at the highest level.

To explain what I mean, I've a story that may surprise you...

The foundation for England's 2003 World Cup triumph

When I joined England's coaching staff in 1997 under Clive Woodward, I wanted to see just how well the players could tackle.

I devised a tackling test, which I introduced to the players at the very first training session I took. In all, 20 players took part.

I marked out a narrow corridor in which each player made 10 attempts at a 1v1 tackle. The results were not great.

The squad average for completed tackles was five. Austin Healey, an evasive runner, ran down the corridor six times and wasn't tackled once. And three players missed every attempt!

From that point on, I decided every session needed to include a defensive session.

I knew that no matter how much I improved their defensive patterns and understanding, the England team would never be successful until every player became an exceptional 1v1 tackler.

Shortly before the England squad went to the Rugby World Cup in 2003, I repeated the tackle test. 26 players in the squad completed all ten tackles successfully. The lowest score was eight.

Would England have won the World Cup without such a marked improvement in their tackling ability? I don't think so.

For proof, just look at that historic final. The England team missed only four tackles, achieving a 95% completion rate.

You will find variations on this 'corridor tackle test' in my DVD along with a variety of other 1v1 tackle scenarios.

Every coach owes it to their players to coach them how to tackle correctly and safely. My DVD Knock Them Down will allow you to coach your players the perfect technique for all types of 1v1 tackling.


"Practice makes perfect is misleading, it is only perfect practice that makes perfect."

Many coaches spend too much time coaching tactics when they should be teaching skills. And skills need to be performed correctly time and time again.

Players will learn skills and habits in every session, whether you want them to or not! It is the coach's duty to make sure skills drills, such as tackling, are carried out perfectly so players do not pick up bad habits.

My DVD Knock Them Down will help you coach players the best ways to tackle powerfully, successfully and safely.

Tackle drills that put less pressure on players' bodies ...

Emphasis is on the quality of the tackle not the power of the collision. Too much unnecessary contact in training will heighten the risk of injury and tire your players so they're no use for any further training. For that reason the ball carrier and tackler start short distances apart to limit the impact.

However, I am convinced tackles needs to be made on players not static tackle tubes. You must train in match-like scenarios wherever possible so players can get used to the physical contact of tackling another player.

The drills in Knock Them Down will ensure performing a tackle correctly and safely will become second nature. There will be no reluctance to make the hit. Every player from 1 to 15 will be confident they can bring their opponent down every time.



Perfect defence from 1 to 15...

Knock Them Down will improve and perfect the tackling skills of every player in your team no matter what their position. But that's not all, you can also tailor your tackle drills to suit forwards and backs so they can used to the type of tackles they will commonly make in a game.

I have drills to show forwards how to defend the fringes of rucks and knock attackers backwards, while your back three players (wingers and full-back) will have their positioning and decision-making tested through a number 2v1 and 3v1 scenarios.

The contents of my DVD Knock Them Down are laid out as follows:

Point 1 – Coaching the individual and not the team

Point 2 – Importance of skills training

Point 3 – Fatigue, body soreness and injury

Point 4 – Perfect practice makes perfect

Aims and objectives

The aim of the defender when making the tackle, his positioning and decision making.

The four basic tackles

1. Side Tackle

2. Tackle from behind

3. Low tackle from the front

4. Head on driving tackle

Tackling Practices and Drills

1. Multiple line drill

2. Grid Drill

3. Race Drill – tackle from behind

4. Shield Drill

5. Corridor Drill (Can be used as a test)

Position specific drills

A. Ruck Defence – aggressive hit and step drill

B. Midfield Defence – grid drill

C. Pendulum Defence – sweeper drill

D. Pendulum Defence – back 3 drill (Full Back and Winger)

Running time: 54 minutes

Once your team master the perfect tackle technique, you will have a defence that few teams will be able to break.

My defensive training techniques have helped coaches at every level.

A few kind words of praise for my defensive work:

"Phil was the best defensive coach I have ever worked with and his work and passion was the key to England not only winning the World Cup in 2003, but becoming the number one ranked team in world rugby. We worked together with England for seven years and his work on our defence enabled us all to realise our dreams and changed the way defence was coached across the world…

Phil Larder was simply the best."

Sir Clive Woodward, World Cup winning head coach of England

"A strong defence was what we built our successful world cup campaign around and Phil was the mastermind behind it."

Martin Johnson CBE, World Cup winning captain of England

How is Knock Them Down different from my first DVD Iron Curtain Defence?

Where Iron Curtain looked primarily at a defensive strategy, Knock The Down looks at perfect tackle technique - pure and simple.

Knock them Down is a great stand alone DVD but also a perfect partner to my first DVD Iron Curtain Defence.

The majority of the strategic elements in my Iron Curtain Defence will only be effective if players have a high level of technical tackling skill.

Knock Them Down will equip your players with just that. They will have the correct skills to not just carry out the tactics in Iron Curtain Defensive, but any defensive strategy you choose to use with your team.

Tackling the "Pendulum" ..

Those of you with my first DVD will be familiar with my Pendulum defence – it's a key element of my Iron Curtain Defence to close down your opponents. In Knock Them Down I look at the defensive role of the back three players (your two wingers and the full-back) in the pendulum defence. I will show how they will have to position themselves to make a tackle if necessary, use the touchline as an extra defender, and cover a kick through.

Knock Then Down is a DVD you will come back to again and again – and the drills can be changed for children and adults of every ability.


Praise from fellow coaches for my first DVD, Iron Curtain Defence:

We have used the "Iron Curtain" defense for the past 2 years at our High School Girls rugby program. Last year in Division 2 we scored 237 points and gave up only 5, so no surprise we were moved to Division 1. Today we are playing for the Division 1 Championship.

Jeff Gatter

Defense Coach, Unionville Ladies Rugby Program, Pennsylvania

I have found the DVD very useful and the exercises have undoubtedly helped my squad to tighten up on defence. As U14s we conceded 62 tries over the season but since using Phil Larder's tactics as U15s they reduced that number to 44, nearly 30% fewer! Whilst commitment to the tackle must be taken as read, the improved defensive organisation has produced a team which is much harder to score against and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that if you concede fewer points you win more games.
Dai Bugler
Level 2 coach, Alton RFC

"I had watched the All Black's defence in 2005 and wanted a tangible way to replicate the mechanics of what I saw on TV. My prayer was answered when I bought Phil's DVD from his expertise working with WC winners England. I used the DVD to systematically reconstruct the organization and body-mechanics of my team. In 2009 we won the league undefeated 14-14 games and were promoted. That was after using the DVD two games into the season. This is an excellent DVD."

Jack Rees, Head Coach Greenwich University Rugby 2006-2010

My team has put the iron curtain defense to good use.  Our overall commitment and organization on defense has improved markedly.  It has given us the foundation skills to develop a team defensive program that works for our style of play, skill/experience level and fitness.  I would recommend this to any coach who wants a credible defense.  Phil Larder is the Man!

Semper Fi,

Bill Bell, Citadel Men's Rugby Head Coach, President, Palmetto Rugby Union


As Program Director for Westside Youth Rugby and Coach for the SWARM Girls High School Rugby team, I am always looking for a way to improve our rugby programs. Phil Larder's Iron Curtain Defense made our defensive scheme more organized and efficient. By allowing each player to cover the area that they are capable of defending, the players were able to spread out and cover more of the pitch. In our first year using this system, the SWARM Girls Rugby team was able to win the Division 2 State Championships.  I attribute a great deal of our success to Phil Larder's Iron Curtain Defense.


Gary Hobbs SWARM Girls Rugby, Coach


Phil Larder's "Iron Curtain" DVD  has helped Llandaff Under 13's tremendously this season. The ideas and drills have come at just the right time for us. We were always quite committed in defence but now we are much more organised and so our efforts are far better rewarded. Phil's explanations are crystal clear and seeing the drills put into practice by the Loughborough players was tremendous help to me and has enabled me to explain things much more clearly to my players.

The DVD is easy to use and I am sure we will revisit the principles explained on numerous occasions in the years to come.

Best wishes

Geoff Jones - Llandaff RFC

Phil Larder describes and explains his Iron Curtain Defence so well that I have been able to use it with my French players! The principles are simply explained, well demonstrated in practise and also graphically depicted in an easy to understand manner. Absolutely invaluable.

Merci Phil.

Gary Shanahan – Carmaux rugby club (near Toulouse).


I highly recommend Phil Larder's Iron Curtain Defence video I have employed in with coaches and teachers across a wide age range and found it to be an effective tool to unlock defensive principles and provide both excellent foundational understanding and practical  examples of how to set defensive patterns.  It empowers both player and coach to recognise potential attacking threats and how to make decisions and provides defensive solutions and options.

Dr Tom Browne, Associate Professor Nanyang University, IRB Coach Educator and Director Barbarians Centre of Excellence


It has given my players greater confidence, organisation and helped in their understanding of their respective roles on defence.  Whilst not winning more games this year, we have closed the gap between us and the bigger teams at such a rate that everyone is talking about us.  We even made the local newspapers a few times.  Instead of losing by 50 every second week – like last season, we're losing by less than 7 with the same players. All this by simply implementing some of the principles from the dvd.

André Hendriks

Group Leader: General Affairs


The "Iron Curtain Defence" DVD is an excellent coaching resource for me at School. We have used it regularly in 1st XV analysis sessions and the DVD is clear, well presented and a valuable tool for understanding the principles of team defence. It is used by a number of my Coaches at School.


Steve Adams - Wellingborough School

The video is excellent, Phil sets out his defensive structure in a way which is easy to follow and simple to implement. 
The improvement in our teams defence was almost immediate, in the next match the teams defence was far better organised and our opponents ended up continually trying to kick over the top of the defence and usually handed us possession.  We won that game and the victory was almost entirely due to a well organised and committed defence which was inspired by Phil's video.
Best regards
Coach Milton Keynes RUFC

Phil Larder has proved himself with his record in both codes of rugby at the highest level. His DVD explains his philosophies, principles and methods, in a very understanding and simple manner... a tool that all ambitious should possess, highly recommended.

Carter CROFT ......Swiss National, Swiss U 20, Swiss 7s, former skills coach in France Pro 2.

The Iron Curtain Defence is a good tool to have.It helped to put in place a defence structure and brought about a better understanding of how the team should work together in defence.We are continuously working with our players to be able to make effective tackles and on quick reaction to match the pace of the passes to the outside.One is in a position to develop the approach to defend play beyond 2 nd and 3 rd phase based on the guidelines provided.

Defence wins games, this is a good weapon  for every serious coach to have.



Coaching drills you can use for the rest of your career

These are tackle techniques I've employed with club and international teams, including England and The Lions. You can rest assured they work.

It's my belief that many coaches focus far too much on tactics and strategy. Without the basics, every strategy will fail – and you cannot blame the players if you haven't taught them the essential skills to succeed.

The tackle drills in Knock Them Down will equip your players with the ability to make 1v1 tackles in a variety of situations.

You will be able to incorporate these drills into all your training sessions. They are suitable for players at every level aged 10+ and I'm confident you will be able to use them again and again for years to come.

Yours in rugby,

Phil Larder

P.S. This DVD will help you to improve the tackling skills of every player in your team no matter what their position or ability. Get your copy now!

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