Tackling a big rugby player

You need a range of techniques and tactics to counter a bigger team. Here are some training ideas to help establish methods of stopping the larger player.

Techniques that can even the contest

The best tackle technique

Undoubtedly, the best method to prevent a bigger player prevailing is a very good foundation in tackle technique.

There is no reason why a small player cannot bring down a big player, especially if their technique is sound and correct. Tackling is a core skill to rugby, so plan plenty of match-like practice that includes tackling.

Positive attitude

Attitude aligned with bravery plays a big part in taking a good tackle technique into the actual tackle. Be positive and encourage this attitude, using tackle pads and contact games to instil this behaviour.

One v two

Overload the defence where two small defenders tackle one big attacker. Working together also gives them confidence and more determination. They do not want to let their team mate down.

Stop it at source

Catch the big player before he can move and gain momentum. Try some rush defence practice in sessions. The defenders race up to the big player to tackle him as he gets the ball.

The big player

In many cases, the big player is either a tall, skinny, lightweight individual or a big, heavy, slow player.

A tall player may be reasonably fast but his long legs are an ideal target area to go for and he has a tendency to fall easily. The heavy player may be more difficult to knock down but has no pace, so can easily be caught.

You may also find that players who have had a growth spurt lack co-ordination as they have not become used to their size, which can again help smaller players stop them.

Training strategies

Challenge your small players to tackle your bigger players. Organise a game of big versus small. Sometimes it only takes the smallest player to bring down the biggest to spread confidence in the rest of your team.

Play a game of “gang up”. Give a bib to one of your players (he does not have to be the biggest player). He can only be tackled by two players at once. If he is not, then the defending team suffer a penalty.

In a match, the big player will have been given the ball because he usually just runs and scores. By pressurising him with two or three tacklers, he will have difficulty passing and your team can make the tackle.

Use your biggest players against their biggest players, especially at restarts. Match up some of the players in training games so a player can only tackle his nominated opposite number. In the same way, put your best tacklers opposite their biggest players.

First tackles are crucial and should be aggressive and full of commitment. Doing this can make the rest of the defensive game much easier for your players as the opposition is always looking for the defence and taking their eye off the ball.

In training, make a virtue of first-time tackles.

In matches and training put on a real show of praise (even more than you do when your team scores) when a big player is felled, especially by a smaller one. This will help show your team the importance you put on this skill.

Doubling-up exercise

Get the big player to run and stay in a 10m x 2m channel. Pass him the ball and, at the same time, get a small player to follow the ball and make the tackle. Another small player moves in to help complete the tackle.

Success is measured not only if the big player is brought to ground, but also if the small players can knock the big player over the red cones.

This article is from Rugby Coach Weekly.

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