Effective Tackling Part 2: In-Contact

Up to now we have covered the introduction and pre- contact phase to an effective tackle. This is my philosophy on tackling as a coach and player. In this article we will cover the in-contact part of tackling in rugby. Keep in mind the pre-contact phase of tackling when applying the in-contact principles.

What is it about?

The in-contact aspect of tackle is to dominate the collusion. The tackler mindset should be to tackle the ball carrier behind the advantage line. The tackler will do this by making good contact with his shoulder. Break the shape and leg drive after the shoulder hit forms the key elements to finish the tackle.

Philosophy behind in contact

Shoulder hit:

The tackler must make good shoulder hit on the ball carrier. The aim is to stop the momentum of the ball carrier. The shoulder hit varies based the type of tackle. In a leg tackle the shoulder hit is made from the waist down. The body or ball tackle is made from the waist up. The tackler should be square when making contact.

Notes: Stay square at the shoulder hit. Stop the momentum of the ball carrier.

Break the shape:

The Break the shape concept is broken down into two steps. The punch and wrap. The tackler will punch with his arms as he makes contact with the shoulder. Punching with the arm past the tackle will give a good space to wrap your arms around the ball carrier. The wrap with the arms around the ball carrier aims to break the shape of the ball carrier. The ball carrier will be in a weak position and will be forced to go to ground. The emphasis is on the "break the shape" concept. The reason is because we often see how tackler’s arms are run open by the ball carrier. Breaking the shape of the ball carrier will put him off balance.

Notes: Keep your arms tucked in when approaching a tackle. It will help you to punch and wrap your arms around the ball carrier much quicker. Focus to tuck the ball carrier in to get him of balance.

Leg drive:

Leg drive is important after the shoulder hit. If you relax after the tackle, the ball carrier will still fight to get over the advantage line. The leg drive will ensure that the tackler will drive the ball carrier back behind the advantage line. The leg drive will work when performing a body/ball tackle. A leg tackle will stop the ball carrier on the spot.

Notes: At the point of contact keep working with your legs. This will ensure you are dominating the collusion and driving the player back.

I base the in-contact phase on these three principles. Performing these steps in contact will make your tackles more dominant. Master the pre- and in-contact phase and you will have a great base to perform effective tackles. The next article will focus on the Post-contact phase.