Tackling is a fundamental skill in rugby. The tackle accounts for the highest number of injuries in the game. Correct technique is essential.
One of the first techniques that defenders must learn is tracking to tackle. This involves the AABC of tracking.
Let’s break those down.
Correct alignment means the defender runs offset to the ball carrier pre tackle. Ideally, shoulder outside of the shoulder. As the defender changes tracking direction to maintain the offset and take the ball carriers space. Young players might instinctively run straight at the ball carrier. A frontal approach may increase the risk of injury. It also leaves the ball carrier more options to avoid the tackle.
Approach. The defender must approach with active feet to deny the ball carrier time and space.
Balance and stability are crucial to the game. Good balance starts with dynamic feet movement. The defender must have a strong body position with their feet and knees in alignment. Their hips and chest square their chin up and eyes forward.
Prior to contact, the defender lowers their center of gravity through their hips with a slight bend of the knees and steps in close to the ball runner. This is sometimes known as fourteen hoops.
Once again good technique in the tackle will minimize injuries to players. The following are some key areas to focus on in the tackle. The defender makes contact with the front of their shoulder. Head behind the ball carrier, grip, stick, squeeze arms around the buttocks. This is termed cheek to cheek.
The defender drives with the legs to complete the tackle. The ball carrier has both hands on the ball when going to ground. Players should be taught how to go to ground correctly. This involves the target, identifying the defender with eyes up.
Control having a strong body position and moving forward. Driving with the legs through the tackle moving the ball from contact and hitting the ground with knees, hips, and shoulders.
Present dynamically moving the ball from the player’s chest either back to their toes or presenting the ball north to south.
Arriving players must have a positive intent to stay on their feet and win the space. This is called plane taking off. An arriving player attempting a clean out on the jackal player must arrive square on at the chest or go over the top of the player and roll them from their armpits. The laws protect the jackal players head and neck. Arriving players who dive or fall into the contest are unsafe this is called plane landing.