The Ins and Outs of Rugby Tackling

October 27 2014

In rugby, tackling is the only way of legally bringing down your opponent. It has been since the 1890’s anyway, where sticking your leg out to trip up your opponent was banned. Nowadays, the callous trip is only used by girlie footballers (with one eye on an acting career post retirement).

How you shouldn’t tackle

Contact above the shoulders during a tackle is banned and punishable by a penalty.  Depending on how dangerous it is deemed to be, a player that has tackled illegally can either expect a yellow card leading to 10 minutes in the sin bin or a red card and banishment for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, no amount of booing by the crowds can alter this).

What you should do after being tackled

As soon as you are tackled, you must release the ball either by passing it or placing it on the ground facing your team on the attack. The tackler must then release the player they have just tackled and roll away from both the ‘victim’ and the ball. If you don’t do this quick enough, you allow the tackled team to gain possession of the ball and continue their attack or the ref can award a penalty to the attacking team. And if you have any budding Leigh Halfpennies on your team, a penalty can almost guarantee 3 points on the board if you are within kicking distance of the post.

On the other hand, a penalty can be awarded to the defending team if the tackled player tries to slow up the game and doesn’t release the ball quickly enough. This is deemed as holding on. A penalty is then awarded to the opposition which they can opt to boot out of touch to gain territory through a lineout and a better chance of scoring.

If a player is tackled to the ground and none of his teammates appear quick enough to clear out the opposition, then the tackler’s team mates can pick the ball up off the ground and steal the ball.

The secret to rucking

As soon as a team mate of the tackled player reaches him on the ground, it becomes a ruck. During a ruck, the tackler’s side cannot attempt to touch or pick up the ball whilst off their feet, or they will be penalised for putting hands in the ruck. However, if a rucking team get the upper hand in the ruck, the defending team can attempt to reach for the ball providing they are on their feet!

If a ball carrier is not brought down to the ground by the tackler, this forms a maul. Both sides can then add players to the maul and push for their lives in an attempt to gain an advantage.

If a player is tackled near the try line, they can reach their arm over and ground the ball and score a try, regardless of the fact that someone is attached to you.

Avoiding injury on the pitch

Unless you’re lucky enough to be playing in Fiji, playing rugby in the cold weather can cause injuries, even when the blood is up and adrenaline rushing, especially when tackling opposition players.

Essentially, the art and rules of tackling are there to prevent players some getting injured. Spear tackles and dump tackles are banned because they can result in serious injury. As we saw with Sam Warburton in the World Cup (Wales is still in uproar from this grossly unfair decision against a thoroughly decent player), tackles like this result in an immediate sending off and can sometimes incur even further sanctions.

Even if you can put in a great tackle like the best, there is always a risk of getting injured. Check out how our scrum caps and body armour, which will not only keep you safe, but will help your technique and give you the edge on the pitch.