It’s not always easy to get young players to embrace contact which is why we’ve spent so much time devising and testing contact drills that will help your players grow in confidence. Use them alongside our tackling drills to develop a team of players that are comfortable making and taking contact.
"With the return to rugby, I’m really worried that my team (U13s) will have forgotten lots of things about rugby. In particular, I’m trying to work out when and how to introduce contact and tackling."
This question came from a coach in Gloucester and is typical of lots of concerns around this area of the game.
It is true that the players will have "forgotten" lots of skills.
Here's how I would approach this situation. On the next page are two tackling exercises to support training.
Make sure your players use the right footwork to power through the contact area and then manipulate the ball so they can offload or present the ball cleanly.
Though power and aggression are important in the contact area, the ball carrier also needs to be technically accurate to ensure good continuity. MORE
There are three main options for how the ball carrier takes the ball into contact. A better understanding of the different methods will help your players decide.
Though we want the ball carrier to avoid contact, there will be times when they will be tackled and still able to adjust to take the impact on their own terms. MORE
More and more teams are doubling up on the ball carrier, with another attacker latching (binding) on to drive him through contact. Here’s a simple exercise to develop the skill.
Two players taking the ball into contact bound together means more power and weight, plus the non-ball carrier can protect and support quickly. It’s a good play against an organised defence. MORE
“Staying alive” means keeping some forward momentum through the contact area. So rather than meekly going to ground when faced with a defender, the ball carrier fights to stay on their feet. This provides a better target for the support players and improves your team’s recycling of the ball. MORE
Winning the ruck is one thing. Timing runs from the back of the ruck is even harder. Here is a core session that works on players taking the pass from a ruck and going into a second contact situation with support. It works for the whole squad and builds on good rucking techniques. MORE
Help players develop their skills around completing a low "chop" tackle. Once the contact is made, the tackler has to recover and contest for the space over the ball.
The activity is clearly introduced with the key points, a demonstration and then the use of micro-coaching from the players to build a clearer understanding of their roles. It finishes with a small contact decision around jackling or competing for space. MORE