LAST MONTH I explained how the new ruck laws have reduced the attempts by a defence to compete for the ball. One team bucking the trend are Leinster, whose aggressive rush defence and insatiable appetite to challenge over the ball at the tackle makes them hard to penetrate.
Teams taking on Leinster require centres who are highly skilled passers and able to control their running speed and depth, because the Irish province’s outside backs ﬂy out of the line to try to create havoc in the passing channels.
The international calibre of their back row means they’re equipped technically and physically to counter-ruck and jackal for turnovers. Their centres are emulating the tenacious prowess of their famous predecessors, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.
But it’s the signiﬁcance of the leader of their defensive line speed that is drawing most attention. Leinster’s aim is to put the opposition’s ﬁ rst receiver under huge pressure. A designated defender, usually third man out from the ruck, rushes out to try to hurry this key ball-player into making mistakes.
Leinster are conceding less than two tries a match and are mounting a strong challenge in the Pro14 and in Europe. This is largely down to a well-organised and totally committed defensive effort.