Rugby is both a collision and an evasive sport. Defenders want to collide into attackers. Attackers want to evade defenders. That's why footwork is a core skill for rugby. Skipping through a few ladders might add some agility, but it's best to deal with actual, moving bodies. Sometimes it's just straight-line speed you need. Other times it's lateral or sideways movement. Often it's a bit of both. MORE
Use boxing-style footwork and arm movements to improve your players’ tackling. The players stay light on their feet, keep their arms active before “punching” like a jab towards the ball carrier, arms going to the side, shoulder engaging and head going into the side.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 5-8
What to think about
The boxer moves lightly on his feet, able to go forward quickly when he sees the chance to strike.
When a boxer punches, he must drive his body forward, just like a tackler. In this case, the “punch” is to the sides of the body, with the shoulder making the impact.
The same foot and same shoulder transfers the most power. Players can experiment with what works best for them. They will, though, have to drive lower than a boxer.
- Stay balanced on your feet, light and with your arms in, hands up.
- Move forward to tackle when the target comes close enough. Punch your Hands beyond the target so your shoulder engages with the ball carrier.
What you get your players to do
Put pairs of players inside a 10m square. Give one player a ball (or a cone to carry in two hands). Get the ball carrier to bob like a boxer around the box, with his partner shadowing him. When you shout “TACKLE”, the ball carrier plants his feet (see picture A).
The non ball carrier then drives his shoulder into the side of the ball carrier and holds. Check for head positioning – there is no need to put the arms out at this stage.
Repeat several times and then swap carrier but with the non carrier’s hands up in a boxer stance. When you shout “TACKLE,” he engages his shoulder and wraps his arms around the ball carrier. Do not put the ball carrier on the ground.
Put pairs into 5m squares (make sure there is plenty of space between them). Get the ball carrier to move sideways between the two end cones, with the tackler shadowing him. When you shout “GO”, the ball carrier runs forward looking to score at the far end against the defender (see picture B).
Play 2v3 with two attackers aiming to score at the far end. One of the defenders can move between the two boxes, while the other two defenders have to stay in their area so there can only be two defenders at any one time in the same area as the ball carrier (see picture C).
Rotate one attacker and one defender after each attempt. Use full contact.
What to call out
- “Step into the tackle“
- “Drive your body forward with the head going into the side of the ball carrier“
- “Once you have punched – grip and squeeze with the arms”