EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Side impact

Even the top teams recognise that they don’t practise side on tackling enough. In this session you can also challenge the players to think of their finishing position first and then work backwards to see why the side on tackle is so effective in winning turnover ball.


Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 10-15
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 12-15
Warm down time: 5-7


What to think about

  • My players have been picking up more bumps and bruises from tackling in training and games than normal. What is wrong and what can I do?The main cause of injury when tackling is poor technique. Primarily the tackler is not getting close enough to the ball carrier and is making arm tackles not shoulder tackles.Work on the players’ footwork in defence, keeping their feet close together and staying on the balls of their feet. This will allow them to get closer to the target and make the hit with the shoulder rather than the arm.

Set-up

  1. Use your feet to get close to the ball carrier so you are not having to reach.
  2. Make a band round their thighs with your arms (“ring of steel”).
  3. Drive through the tackle with your legs.

What you get your players to do

Before you start, walk through the correct technique emphasising the safety point of keeping the head behind the ball carrier. (See the “Technique” picture opposite.)

The tackler starts the main exercise by passing to the attacking player. This attacking player then runs to score in the “scoring zone”. The tackler must get across to make a side on tackle before the try is scored. (See the “Side Impact” picture.)

You can set up three or four work stations next to each other so players work harder.

The tackler keeps his head behind the ball carrier, hitting their hips with his shoulder.

The tackler keeps his head behind the ball carrier, hitting their hips with his shoulder.


Development

Add a support player and another defender. The ball carrier can now offload after the tackle and the second defender has to make the next tackle. He can only move once the first tackle has been made.

The tackler throws the ball to the attacking player, then tackles them before they score.

The tackler throws the ball to the attacking player, then tackles them before they score.


Game situation

Four attackers start along the side of a square with four defenders at one corner. The defenders must decide among themselves who is going to tackle who. On “GO” the attackers try to score on the opposite side of the square, the defenders try to stop the attack.

Encourage the defenders to communicate when their man has passed the ball.

Change the sides regularly so players tackle with both shoulders.

The tacklers must nominate who they are going to tackle before the game starts.

The tacklers must nominate who they are going to tackle before the game starts.


What to call out

  • “Keep your head up and eyes on the target”
  • “Stay on your feet and drive the legs”
  • “Land on top of the ball carrier”
  • “Get back to your feet and target the ball”
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