Tuesday, July 13, 2010 11:17 am


Master this move and show you really know rugby.

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The fundamental tackle in rugby, defined in its most basic form, is made when the ball carrier is brought to the ground and held there. Unlike football, where you are trying to stop yardage gained, in rugby giving up an extra yard or two is okay because you ensure that the tackle is effective, and it allows for more options to dominate the ball carrier. A proper tackle means the ball carrier has been fully brought to the ground and forward momentum has been stopped with the defender still in contact. In just four simple steps, you can master this essential skill.

1. Control the direction
Be in motion toward the ball carrier (you should never be flat-footed, as this will encourage the offensive player to run directly at you) and always look at him faceup. This reduces the amount of momentum working against you at contact, and also limits the offensive player’s time to consider alternative moves to thwart a tackle. And the last thing he wants to do is give up the ball, so think you are tackling a one-armed man.

2. Lower your stance
Just before contact, lower your stance to a “facedown” position, aiming your head beside his lower rib area and your shoulder to make contact around the midsection or lower torso. This limits the amount of your body that can be fended off or hit with a stiff arm, as the top of your shoulders and head make a harder target than if you were upright. Wrap the arm of the shoulder making initial contact around the ball carrier and grab the back of his jersey.

3. Wrap it up
Once engaged, use your outside arm to reach under the hamstring of the ball carrier’s leg and pull it up toward your chest, ensuring that you control the offensive player’s balance. If you can’t reach the leg, reach around his back and grab his shorts or jersey so you don’t lose the tackle when other players join in or momentum ensues.

4. Take him down
Use the power in your legs and upper body to twist the ball carrier down so he lands on his back or side. This places you in the dominant position controlling any movement on the ground, while also allowing you to get to your feet faster as play progresses. So long as you’re not making a try line (end zone) tackle, it’s okay to let the player gain a few yards to ensure you tackle effectively.

Read more helpful tips from the pros in the May/June 2010 issue of SOBeFiT Magazine.

Daryl Spinner Howland has played both Rugby League and Rugby Union for more than 30 years. He has coached teams in both codes in Boston, at the University of North Florida and with the USA National Student Rugby League Team for the 1999 Student Rugby League World Cup. In 2006, he co-founded the Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League team and was the head coach and player for the team for three years. In 2009, he became assistant player/coach and his team played an undefeated regular season, earning a spot in the American National Rugby League National Championship game. He can be reached at jaxaxe.com.

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