Refreshing tackle games

We’ve all felt like this before. You leave tackling out of a session for just one week and it’s as if players have never done it before. Here are four simple ways to get them back on track.

Tackling, like passing, is a core skill that should be worked on at every training session. It doesn’t need to be 100% full contact either. Footwork, contact skills positioning and technique can all be worked on using touch or scrag games.

Most missed, or poor, tackles are because the tackler’s feet are too far away from the ball carrier to make an effective shoulder tackle. When you are playing conditioned games of touch always insist on a two-handed touch on the waist. This shows you that the defender has got his feet into a position where he would have been able to make the tackle.

Refreshing tackle games

Use these four ways to refresh tackling skills:


1 Tackle touch

Play 5v3 in a 25m x 10m box. Defenders get a point for every two-handed touch on the ball carrier’s waist (see picture 1). When touched, the ball carrier must go to ground and present the ball – this allows the defenders to get onside and realigned (see picture 2).

2 Scrag

Games of scrag are an excellent extension from touch games and allow players to develop tackle technique without making full tackles. In scrag, tacklers stop the ball carrier by holding him rather than making a full tackle.

As referee you call when the tackle is made which gives you control over the games. Any game can be played as scrag and it is excellent for developing footwork, positioning and technique.

3 Walking rugby

Every player I have coached loves full contact walking rugby. Use full rugby laws. The only difference is that players can only walk. This allows them to work on their tackle technique in a low pressure, slow motion situation.

4 Repetition

This 1v1 game can be played as touch, scrag or full contact and develops all the skills needed to make effective tackles. A ball carrier and a tackler face each other in an 8m x 4m channel. Midway across the channel is a line of different coloured cones at 2m intervals. You call “GO” and a colour and the
ball carrier runs round the outside of that cone and attempts to beat the tackler.

The tackler has to mirror the ball carrier’s movements and make the tackle as close to the line of cones as he can (see picture 3).

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