Use this exercise after learning some tackle techniques to improve the defender's awareness and resilience in making tackles. There will be misses, nearly tackles and good tackles. Low impact and fun, it's aimed at younger players, but you can certainly use it with all ages. MORE
Most front-on tackles happen in close quarters. Neither tackler or ball carrier can adjust their lines to make it any other way. The majority of front-on tackles happen at the side of a ruck and the tackler has to choose whether to drive up and back or bring the player right down.
Warm up time: 5
Session time: 6-9
Development time: 6-9
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 7
What to think about
Simple laws of motion tell us that an object will knock back another object with a greater force. In rugby terms, a tackler who is static will find it more difficult make an aggressive front-on tackle, and, depending on relative weights, be knocked backwards. Therefore, he needs to move forward to meet the ball carrier.
In reality, such an aggressive tackle can only happen when the ball carrier has not picked up much speed. The short distance allows the tackler to be in a strong position to drive forward. Otherwise, he will mishit and bounce off the tackle.
- Pick your target (the ball carrier) early.
- Set yourself to come forward on your terms.
- Go from a low strong position and drive up and under the ball.
- Drive your head into the space right next to the ribs.
What you get your players to do
Split into pairs, with a ball each. The ball carrier skips up and down and side to side, but no more than one metre from his starting position.
When you shout “GO”, the other player steps in and drives his shoulder under the ball. He wraps his hands around the ball carrier and lifts him up and back no more than a metre. Swap ball carriers and repeat.
Put a defender in the middle of the box and an attacker at each end. One attacker enters the box. The defender tries to stop him reaching the other end. He scores a point for driving his opponent to the side and two points for back out the way he came in.
After that tackle he turns and the other attacker comes forward. Adjust the pace of the attackers depending on the experience of the players. Repeat no more than six times for one defender before swapping roles.
Put two defenders about 3m apart, beside a cone each, and an attacker in the middle about 2m away. Stand behind the defenders and show the attacker which cone to go around. That defender has to make sure the attacker does not get beyond the cone he is defending.
What to call out
- “Eyes open and focus on belly button”
- “Step into tackle, don’t wait for it”
- “Engage arms, drive in head, pump legs”