"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. MORE
Push, punch, break
Replicate game situations where forwards have to ruck and handle in quick succession, with a degree of decision-making. It needs the simple things done well.
Forwards often have to mix contact and handling skills in a short space of time. Challenge them to move quickly from skill to skill.
- Set up six attackers, three ruck-pad holders and four other defenders in boxes.
- Make three players clear the ruck-pad holders out of their box, releasing the ball for the next three attackers who have to punch through the two defenders in the adjacent box.
- Finally, once through this box, they have to beat the final two defenders who come forward once the attack enters the wide box. Use full contact tackling.
- Only work on one element at a time, or two together.
- Swap starting points to create different angles.
- Make the first box a tackle and ruck box (take away the pads).
- Put four defenders and six attackers in a 20m box, with one attacker 2m from the defenders.
- When you shout “go”, the first attacker must aim to beat the defence. He cannot offload the ball.
- Once a ruck forms the attack can only score without resorting to another ruck.
- Using strong body positions, clear ruck pads, drive ball through defence and beat defenders.
- Maintain good go forward.
- Get yourself back into the game quickly from the previous situation.