Top tips: THE RUGBY TACKLE
The rugby tackle is an indispensable part of the game. Secondary-schools and clubs up and down the country have been teaching children how to tackle safely for years. However there’s no denying it: tackling is the most dangerous element of the game. But worry not! Staying safe and avoiding injury whilst on the field is easy – as long as you get your techniques down to a T. Here at Mitre, we have broken down the rugby tackle into 3 simple steps that anybody can follow!
Now, before we start, it’s essential that you have the right equipment. Make sure you have your mouthguard and scrum-hat (if you’re in the scrum), as well as the correct boots and studs. You might also want to invest in some tackling bags or tubes so you can practice your technique without the fear of injury.
Preparation and Positioning
Before anything, it is important to get into the habit of knowing where, how and when to make a tackle. The more you practice, the more it will become a natural instinct. Begin by approaching your opponent, close the space between yourself and the ball carrier’s safe side. The safe side is the side of the ball carrier’s body that’s not going to make contact with the ground first. This is crucial as if you make a tackle with your head on the wrong side, your head will hit the ground first and get trapped between the floor and your opponent.
Many people believe that hitting your opponent as hard as possible is the only way to make a tackle. Well, they’re wrong. Yes, strength and power are crucial parts of a tackle, but a good tackle prevents the ball carrier from playing off the ball.
When making contact, begin by targeting the hips/waistline. This is the core, it tells you where the carrier is going at all times. The eyes, arms and even the ball itself can be used to perform dummies and thus be often misleading. Be sure to keep low. You should approach in a running crouch stance to lower the center of gravity. Keep your legs bent so you are able to drive through your opponent. When it comes to tackling, the player with the lowest center of gravity usually wins.
When going in for a tackle you’ll instinctively want to put your head down and close your eyes. Overcome this instinct as it’ll only make it harder to tackle. Alongside this your instincts will tell you to put your arms out wide to create a bigger surface area. But this means your arms and hands will be doing the tackling, and will increase the chances of injury. Keep your elbows tuck to the inside of your body. This will concentrate the momentum through your shoulder and into your opponent.
It is important to remember that the tacke doesn’t stop once you’ve made contact. You must use your momentum to ensure a full tackle is made and your opponent falls to the ground.
Remember, this will all happen within a couple of seconds. If all goes to plan, you’ll end up on the ground with your opponent. It is likely that a ruck will now occur over the top of you. Curl up and protect your head and face. If possible stand up, but make sure you don’t prevent your opponent from releasing the ball as you’ll end up giving away a penalty for obstruction.
The tackle is a skill that requires just as much patience and practice as it does care and caution. Remember, even once you master the technique it can be easy to switch off and get lazy – even the pros make mistakes!