"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
Quick reaction tackling
If the tackler can get in front of the ball carrier just before the tackle, it’s easier to make shoulder contact. Young players in particular will benefit from this skill.
This session develops simple defensive tracking skills so the defender gets in front of the attacker to make a two-handed touch. If they can do this, they should be in a good position to make a full tackle.
- A defender with a ball stands in the middle of the 5m coned line opposite an attacker standing between the 2m coned gate.
- The defender throws the ball to the attacker.
- The attacker comes forward as they catch the ball and tries to get through one of the gates either side of the defender.
- The defender comes forward to try to two-hand touch the attacker
- After the touch is made or not, they run around and swap.
- Repeat five times for each.
- Develop by moving to grab tackling or full tackling.
- Come forward when defending.
- Stay light on the feet.
- Keep the elbows close to the body to keep balanced before stepping forward to make the touch.