Tackling in rugby is one of the most important aspects of the game. It is crucial to be able to bring an opponent down quickly and efficiently. Certain skills and tips can be applied when performing a proper tackle. These steps can be applied to any rugby position on the field because everyone must have the ability to tackle.
1. Approach- Much like football, you want to approach the ball carrier quickly in order to limit the amount of open space the runner has. The more space available, the harder the tackle will be. If approaching from the side, be sure to take the proper angle and do not over commit, allowing the runner to cut back inside of you.
2. Break Down- It is important to break down before coming into a tackle. Personally, I find it best to break down roughly 5-6 yards before making a tackle. A good break down stance is low and square to the runner. If you run into a tackle without breaking down, it is very likely that you will run right past the ball carrier.
3. Lock on- The best place to position your eyes are on the hips of your opponent. A ball carrier's hips will indicate where he wants to go. The ball carrier will try to fake you out with head and shoulder fakes so it is important to completely ignore those movements.
4. Initiate contact- Do not let the ball carrier initiate first contact. By making the contact, you have the momentum and force necessary to bring your opponent to the ground. By surrendering first contact, you give the runner the ability to run right over or past you.
*Important: Do not tackle above the armpits or leave your feet. Such moves are called a "dangerous tackle" and will result in a penalty.
5. Head-Up- Keeping your head upright serves two purposes. First, if you put your head down, you may lose sight of the ball carrier and you can easily miss your tackle. Second, it is dangerous to lead with your head down when making a tackle. The force could snap your neck, leading to serious injury. Position your head to the side of the ball carrier, underneath their armpit.
6. Wrap-Up- You must wrap your arms up and around the waist or legs of your opponent. Once your arms are wrapped, grab onto anything you can, either your own wrist or jersey of the ball carrier. Having a strong grasp is essential so there will be no chance of a broken tackle.
7. Drive Legs- Drive your legs and run right through the ball carrier. Do not stop running your legs at the start of contact. Do not pick the ball carrier up but, drive low and hard until the opponent is on the ground.
These are the most crucial steps to making a proper tackle in rugby. When followed correctly, a sure tackle can be made. If completely outmatched in size, adjust these steps to initiate contact lower, around thigh level.
Devin Cassinelli is a Sport Management major at Nichols College. Devin is also an active participant in the Nichols College Club Rugby team.
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