EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Side-on tackles to win the ball

Even the top teams recognise they don’t practise side-on tackling enough. In this session, you can also challenge 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

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 footwork in defence, keeping the feet close together and staying on the balls of the feet. This will allow tacklers 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 picture 1).

In the 5m x 2m channel, the tackler starts the game by passing to the attacker who attempts to score. The tackler must get across to make a side-on tackle before a try is scored (see picture 2).

Set up three or four work stations next to each other to accommodate more players.

Side-on tackling technique. The tackler keeps his head behind the ball carrier, hitting his hips with his shoulder.

Side-on tackling technique. The tackler keeps his head behind the ball carrier, hitting his hips with his shoulder.


Development

Add a support player and another defender starting behind the ball carrier and first tackler. The ball carrier can now offload after the tackle and the second defender has to contest to win the ball. 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 in the 2m gate.

The tackler throws the ball to the attacking player, then tackles them before they score in the 2m gate.


Game situation

In a 15m square, four attackers start on one side with four defenders at one corner. The defenders must decide among themselves who is going to tackle whom. On “GO”, the attackers try to score on the opposite side of the square, the defenders try to stop the attack (see picture 3).

Encourage 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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