Tackling

Rugby is 50% defence.  If all members of our team develop and improve their tackling technique we can increase the amount of pressure we put on the opposition and force them to make mistakes, which will create more opportunities for us to regain possession of the ball.  

If we never miss a tackle, our opponent will find it very difficult to score against us.  Well timed tackles could stop our opposition from passing the ball, making defence easier for the rest of our team.  Pressure tackling prevents our opponent from going forward and will force them back towards their own goal line.  It can cause them to knock on or make a forward pass giving us controlled possession from a set piece (scrum).

You need to learn how to tackle from various directions – from the side, behind and directly in front because the opposition will attack from all angles.  Remember you are not allowed to tackle with your feet, as that is tripping and is a penalty not to mention very dangerous.  Also, you must tackle below the shoulders because again, high tackles are illegal and very likely to cause injury to the ball carrier.

To tackle we want to be in the rugby power position: Squat down. Your knees are bent, back flat like a tabletop and hips over your ankles. Feet are planted firmly on the ground, and weight is on the balls of you feet. It should fell like you could spring forward at any time.  Be aware of your arms. They should be out at your sides, ready to grab onto a person to complete a tackle.

The Side Tackle 

  1. Make sure your shoulders are above the ball carrier’s hips to ensure you don’t put yourself in a position that could cause injury as you approach the ball carrier and site the target – the ball carrier’s thigh.Make contact with your opponent, going cheek to cheek. This means that you will put the cheek of your face to their butt cheek. Make sure your head is tucked behind your opponent’s body. Your shoulder should be at their thigh and your arms should be bent and out.
  2. Wrap your arms around your opponent’s thighs, quickly and forcefully pulling them towards you. This will stop them from running and cut off their momentum. This is very important, as it is impossible to tackle a runner without completing this step.
  3. Hold on and fall. Your weight will carry down the ball carrier.  If the ball carrier is much bigger than you, let your wrap grip slide down the legs like a fireman down a fire pole and gradually tighten as you slide. Continue to drive through to complete the tackle. But don’t hang around admiring your work. You have got a ball to recover.

The Front Tackle

  1. Very similar to the side tackle, make sure your shoulders are above the ball carrier’s hips to ensure you don’t put yourself in a position that could cause injury as you approach the ball carrier and site the target – the ball carrier’s belly.  Make contact with your opponent, going cheek to hip. This means that you will put the cheek of your face to the side of their hip. Make sure your head is tucked against your opponent’s body. Your shoulder should be in their belly and your arms should be bent and out.
  2. Wrap your arms around your opponent’s thighs, quickly and forcefully pulling them towards you. This will stop them from running and cut off their momentum. This is very important, as it is impossible to tackle a runner without completing this step.
  3. Hold on tight and and fall and twist to the side. Your weight will help carry down the ball carrier.  Make sure as you drop to the ground you twist the ball carrier to the side away from your head.  The ball carrier should land on their side with your head on top of their hip.  If you twist the wrong way your head will be between the ground and their body which is not at all comfortable.  If the ball carrier is much bigger than you, let your wrap grip slide down the legs like a fireman down a fire pole and gradually tighten as you slide. Continue to drive through and twist sideways to complete the tackle. But don’t hang around admiring your work. You have got a ball to recover.

OR

  1. The second way to do a front tackle is to generate your own forward and upward momentum into the ball carrier.  This is sometimes referred to as a dump tackle.  Make stronger contact upwards into the lower ribs – low to high – with one of your shoulders.
  2. Remember to move your head and neck to the side of the ball carrier’s body as they approach.  At the same time the arm on your contact shoulder side wraps around the ball carrier’s back and your other arm picks up the ball carrier’s nearer leg a few inches off the ground. (Note: It is dangerous to lift a player high and tip them over onto their shoulders or head and you should not complete the tackle in this way!
  3. This disrupts the player’s balance and you than then tip the player sideways and backwards so that you can land on top.
  4. If you are able to stay on your feet, attack and take the ball which the ball carrier should have released.

The Rear/Behind or Chase Tackle

  1. Make sure your shoulders are above the ball carrier’s hips to ensure you don’t put yourself in a position that could cause injury as you approach the ball carrier and site the target – the ball carrier’s thighs.  This must be getting to sound familiar.  Focus on the target area – the back of your opponent’s thighs – and get as close to the ball carrier as possible.  Make contact with your shoulder on your opponent’s thigh and position your head to one side of their leg to ensure their feet aren’t able to accidentally hit your head. Make sure your head is tucked against your opponent’s body. Your shoulder should be in their thighs just under their bum and your arms should be bent and out.
  2. Wrap your arms around your opponent’s thighs, quickly and forcefully pulling them towards you. This will stop them from running and cut off their momentum. This is very important, as it is impossible to tackle a runner without completing this step.
  3. Hold on tight, the combination of yours and your opponent’s momentum will see you slide down your opponent’s legs, which should naturally pull them down. Concentrate on hanging on! But don’t hang around admiring your work. You have got a ball to recover.

The Smother Tackle

  1. For a smother tackle, get in the power position as with all tackles but stand a little taller and raise your centre of gravity a few  inches as you are tackling at a higher height.  Approach the ball carrier with your shoulders square and your eyes on the target – the upper arm, chest and ball.
  2. Plant your lead foot as you approach in between the ball carrier’s feet and try to wrap both arms around the ball carrier and in doing so trap the ball carrier’s arms and the ball at the same time thus smothering them.\
  3. Drive forward once you make contact.


In Review : Some Key points for players in every tackle situation

The tackler should:
  • keep their  ‘eyes up’ looking at the ball carrier to keep head in the correct position
  • track the movement of the ball carrier and get their feet close enough to make the tackle using the arms to ‘wrap’ around the ball carrier
  • prepare for contact – adopting a body position  (the power position) that is strong, stable and low
  • position their head behind or to one side of the ball carrier (never position the head in front of the ball carrier)
  • release the tackled player, get back to their feet immediately and contest for possession

 

And.. because you have stuck with this for so long.. here is a video showing some great tackles and highlights.  There are also a number of tackles that are pushing the boundaries of the rules.  While you are watching, try and identify those things you think may be illegal and how you would make the tackle better or, if you were the ball carrier, what you could do to avoid the tackle.

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