During a Rugby game most of the time the players are attempting to avoid contact. Contact resulting in a tackle or ruck can be seen as a Continuity failure. The failure is in not keeping the ball moving forward.
However you cannot go a full game without getting in to contact more than a few times. It wouldn’t be rugby without a few good tackles! You need to know how to make contact so that you maintain control of your body and the ball. Being tackled or going into contact will often lead to a ruck. A ruck is formed when the ball is on the ground and one or more players from both teams are on their feet and in physical contact, closing above/around the ball. In a sense, a ruck is a technique use by a group of teammates to retain or regain possession, usually when one member has been tackled.
The first image is of a ruck in progress. You can see the tackled ball carrier on the ground with the ball presented back to his supporters and his teammates locked in contact above him. The body position of the players in the ruck is not optimal and the 2nd photo shows how the support players are in proper power positions and driving into the defenders.
A ruck often produces quick ball, meaning that the ball is in the hands of the scrumhalf before the defense has a chance to reset, in an attacking situation.
To ruck well players usually need to arrive at the contact or tackle point before the opposition and drive forward. To disorganize a defense and keep the ball moving forward quickly, try ot set up a dynamic and fast ruck to produce a quick ball. The ball carrier should make contact first with their leading shoulder and to drive the defender back. Once the defender begins to hold the ball carrier, the ball carrier starts to turn towards his support and goes to ground.
This video gives an idea on how to contact a defender. The ball carrier manages to fall and present the ball back to their team. One point to note is that the ball carrier should always try and have both hands on the ball to ensure it is secure.
Ball presentation – “Superman” & “Jackknife”
Ball presentation is of massive importance. The idea is to make the “gate” as far away as possible for the opposing defenders. The “gate” is an imaginary point of entry to the ruck, ensuring that players stay onside.
The increasingly popular body position to fight to achieve after being tackled, is the “Superman” position, or “long body”. The attacker is tackled and pushes their upper body back towards their own teammates, while on the ground. They should end up in a perpendicular position to the try line with their hands on the ball on their team’s side and their legs and feet on the side of their opponents. This is the optimal position to get into once you have been tackled. The “gate” for your opponents is way down at your feet. It is also a narrow “gate”. This means that the attacking side may need to commit only one player into the narrow ruck to win clean, quick ball. In turn, this means that the attacking side’s forwards can offer themselves as runners in the backline, effectively giving the attacking side more options and therefore speeding up the game.
Another good body positions for the attacker at the ruck is the “Jackknife”, where the attacker’s back is toward the opposing tryline and their feet and arms are touching and facing their own team that is, their torso is perpendicular to the field and bent at the waist, their legs and feet pointed at their support. In the above video the ball carrier was in a partial jacknife position. The more the legs are pointed back at your support, the smaller the “gate” the defense has to attack the ball. The attacker’s body position should look like a triangle and their head tucked under his arm to protect their face, while both hands are on the ball. The attacker should push the ball back towards their own teammates, as far as possible to ensure that the “gate” is a considerable distance from his opponents.
The ball carrier presents the ball (places/pushes, not throw) at arms length towards his support players. Technically the tackled player must release the ball but they can keep a hand on the ball to keep it from rolling or being knocked about. Once ANYONE reaches for the ball, they MUST remove their hands regardless whether it be teammate or opponent.
Support players drive over the top of the tackled ball carrier and ball. They bind onto (wrap their arms around and grip tightly) the defenders and other support players and push forward so the ball is just behind their feet. A support player drives forward in the power ‘One Direction’ position (eyes open, head looking forward and chin off their their chest and spine-in-line). Keeping shoulders always above hips and on their feeth they push or hold back the defenders