Tackling is a major part of rugby union. To stop an opposition player ball-carrying towards their in-goal area, a player will tackle their opponent to the ground. A tackle is completed by wrapping the arms around the opponent to bring them to the ground. A player can only be tackled when they are in possession of the rugby ball. A good tackle is a mixture of aggression, physicality, positioning and technique. There are a number of ways a player can tackle a player depending on the size of their opponent and the size of the player making the tackle.
This is the most technical tackle. It requires good positioning and technique and if performed correctly even the biggest ball-carriers can be brought down. It requires the tackler to position their body low and tackle the ball-carrier around their legs. This is the preferred type of tackled for players attempting to bring down a player of greater physicality.
A body tackle is performed when the tackle is made below the neck and above the mid-rift of the tackled player. This tackle is performed close to rucks and other areas a player cannot position themselves to make a low tackle.
A crash tackle is a type of body tackle. The tackling player runs at full speed at the player he wishes to tackle and crashes into them usually in full flight. It brings the tackled player to ground much quicker than a normal body tackle. It is performed when the player wants to force the player backwards towards their own in-goal area. This tackle is mainly performed by backrow forwards and the outside backs on a player who is smaller or of similar size to them.
This is a body tackle but the tackle those not want to bring the player to the ground. Instead the tackler holds up the tackled player, waits for support of his team-mates to form a maul. If the ball becomes not playable in the maul the team of the tackler is awarded a scrum.
An ankle tap is performed when a player running after an opponent who is in possession of the ball, dives and taps the players ankles together tripping the player in the process. This is usually performed when the tackling player is unlikely to be able to catch the tackled player.
The Lift tackle
The lift tackle is when the tackling player lifts the tackled player and drives them backwards in the direction of their in-goal area.This tackle can be very dangerous if it is not performed properly.
The spear tackle is an illegal type of lift tackle where the tackled player is lifted up by one or more players and driven down on their shoulder or head. This is an extremely dangerous type of tackle that has caused controversy in recent years years. The most infamous spear tackle was performed on British and Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll during the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2007, dislocating the player's shoulders.
To learn more about the rules and gameplay rugby union, click one of the links below:
Ruby Union Gameplay and Rules
- The Breakdown
- The Ruck and Maul
- The Scrum
- The Lineout
- Passing from hand