By Mark Calverley, RFU Level 3 and IRB Level 4 qualified coach, and owner of the NZRFU Practicum award – the highest coaching award in New Zealand
Once players have been introduced to the techniques and safety issues involved with tackling and have practised it in safe controlled environments and drills, it is time to put it in to a match-type practice.
Lead in with…
Safety and building confidence remain paramount in your planning. A player who has little confidence in tackling (whether big or small) may be turned off – or away from – the sport forever. Introduce tackling on static targets initially – tackle bags, static players on their knees advancing to standing. Build up gradually to players walking and being tackled. Cover the key points: Body shape, sighting the target, footwork to, in and through contact, arm grip (“ring of steel” and leg drive, head position and speedy recovery on to your feet.
The next step is…
Using ruck pads where the holder wraps his arms around the front (top third) of the pad allows the tackle to be completed and the pad to be released. This brings in to play learning how to fall safely, get up quickly and drive over the ball or grab it.
The types of contact are…
- The side-on tackle using the right shoulder (1)
- The side-on tackle using the left shoulder (2)
- The simulated rear tackle (3)
- The front-on offensive (forward driving) tackle (4)
- The front-on defensive (backwards falling) tackle (5).
All need to be done using the left and right shoulder and built up from slow speed to faster speed. Ensure tackles are done in space so tacklers do not fall on each other.