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Timing, technique and body position. Get those three things right in a tackle and you’ll be able to safely and effectively take down almost anyone on a rugby pitch.

Sam Vesty of the Leicester Tigers prepares to tackle Steffon Armitage of London Irish

Photo: Getty Images

Set Yourself For The Tackle

  • Aim low - Your primary aim in the tackle is to stop the player who is running with the ball, and the most effective way of doing that is to stop their legs moving. If you aim low and hit your opponents legs then the runner will go down, regardless of how much upper body strength he or she has
  • Bend At The Waist And The Knees – You should be aiming to make contact with the runner between the knee and the hip, driving your shoulder into their thigh. To do this you’ll have to bend at the waist, but if you bend at the knees too you can use the power in your legs to help make the tackle
  • Have Your Arms Raised – When you make the tackle you want to wrap your arms around your opponent’s legs so have them up around shoulder height and ready
Luke Narraway of the England Saxons tackles Tony Buckley of Ireland A

Photo: Getty Images

Make the hit

  • Position Your Head Correctly – So that you’re safe in the tackle, you need to make sure your head is away from the runner’s knees, and that he or she is not going to land on it when they go down. If you’re tackling head-on, make sure your body is not reaching across the runner’s legs i.e. if you’re making the hit with your right shoulder your head should be on the outside of the runner’s right thigh (see image). If you’re tackling from the side get your head behind the runner
  • Drive from your legs – As you make contact with your shoulder, straighten your legs and drive into the player. The more force you can put into your tackle the more likely you are to put the runner off balance
  • Wrap the runner up – Not wrapping your arms around the player you’re tackling counts as a shoulder barge and is illegal. Wrapping your arms around both of the runner’s legs will also make for a more effective tackle, putting your opponent on the ground and making it less likely he or she will be able to pass the ball

After the tackle

  • Get to your feet fast – Lying on the ground holding onto your opponent’s legs may mean you’ve just made a great tackle, but it also means you’re out of the game. If you’re a back you need to get to your feet and get back in position, and if you’re a forward, you need to get up fast and lend your weight to the ruck

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