Tackling and offloading: Multi-focus games-led session for younger players

Use this session to develop two core skills for players so they have a chance to practise and nail one key factor for each.


Walking tackling

In a 20m box, play up to 5 v 5 walking rugby. Tackles are only made if the head is on the shorts of the ball carrier.

Turn over the ball after five of these tackles or if the ball carrier runs with the ball.

Tackle exercise

In a small box, put one tackler, and three to four ball carriers. On the whistle, the tackler has to grab and lift each player only 1cm off the ground (and no more).

This promotes a tight grip. Swap roles and let each player have two goes. Feedback halfway through on improvements (like getting close to make the grip).

Back to walking rugby

All tackles now are by tight grip and lift.


Back into the small box with one tackler and two ball carriers. Chasing ball carriers and grip and lift. Can they do it in 15 seconds?

Back into the game

Play 5 v 5 in wide but not long box. Grip tackles with a lift. Remember the lift is only a few centimetres.


Offloading game

Change the game to touch rugby. The ball carrier has three seconds to offload ball after a touch. Eventually, the defenders will start to block passes. They are not allowed to grab the player. This means attackers will have to use footwork avoid this. Stop the game after five minutes to feedback on what could happen next.


Play 2 v 1 in a narrow corridor. A tackler starts at the side of the box about 5m away from the ball carrier and his support player. The tackler can only grab shorts. The ball carrier tries to beat the defender first, then offloads the ball.

Develop this exercise by starting the support player directly behind the ball carrier.

Offloading game

Back to the game, but grab tackles and grabbing the ball are allowed. Attackers will have to work even harder to keep the ball free.


Spend half an hour maximum on each core skill. Around 20 minutes on the games and 10 minutes on the skills exercise.


Concentrate on two key factors to correct throughout the session. If the players are failing to do other aspects, like communicate, leave them alone.

  • Grip – a strong grip in the tackle means the arms are wrapped around the legs of the ball carrier, with the head tight to the body. Sometimes it’s called the ring of steel. Without a strong grip, they won’t be able to lift a player 1cm off the ground, which is a good indicator of success.
  • Footwork – this means getting to the edges of the tackler. The ball carrier gets going forward but steps to one side or the other of the ball carrier.


In addition to adjusting bad habits, look for good habits too. Don’t correct them if you don’t see, but praise them if you do.

  • Head position – putting the head in the safest place for a tackle.
  • Leg drive – in the tackle or through contact, keeping the legs moving.
  • Support lines – coming onto the pass at pace.
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