Down to the new ruling surrounding dangerous tackles, players are having to adapt the way they make challenges to avoid gaining what some see as soft cards. The new rule has already seen multiple red and yellow cards since the rule came in at the new year; with players making the same challenges as before, but getting penalised much harsher; such as Hartley, who put his England captaincy in danger down to a loose arm which earned him a red against Leinster.
Actions are being taken throughout Rugby to combat the problem of both soft cards and dangerous tackles, with such things as the ‘TackleSMART‘ campaign set up by the IRFU to give youngsters and experienced players an insight into what makes a good tackle; they even get the expertise of greats such as, Les Kiss, Pat Lamb, Jacques Nienaber and Girvan Dempsey.
With actions being taken, we thought we’d do our bit and give you our best tips for safe, yet quality tackling. These tips will definitely not soften your tackling, and they will stop you from getting a card…
- Wrap your arms: Wrapping your arms around an opponent is one thing which clearly defines a safe tackle since the rulings have changed, and that is what is earning a lot of these players cards, so make sure you’re not leaving any arms flying about, because you will most likely be picked up on it. If you have got a problem with keeping your arms wrapped; practice tackling with both hands holding tennis balls or something to fill each hand. This will stop you from gripping with your hands and allow you to get used to wrapping your arms completely around your opponent.
- Keep Low: This is pretty self explanatory, and it is what you’re taught from the start, but keeping low will allow you to keep not just your opponent but yourself safe, as hitting further up means hitting harder parts of the body than the upper leg; the same with tackles which are too low, as you don’t want a knee taking your teeth out. Keeping low in a tackle also gives you the opportunity to push your opponent back when the tackle is made.
- Have versatile tackling style: When you’re younger, you may not be taught about the varying tackling types which depend on such things as where your opponent is coming from and how you are approaching. Gaining knowledge and getting practice at being able to use these different styles will allow you to lower your miss rate in tackles, as you will not be stuck to tackling in only one way, allowing you to make tackles in situations which you may previously have not. This is also effective with the new rule, as you will not be forced to make a challenge which may be dangerous, simply down to it being the only way you know how to put in a challenge. Where as, if you adapt to these styles you will be able to make the most effective challenge every time.
- Get rid of the bags: Using tackling bags is useful when learning the basics of tackling, but using them too often can become costly. Players who use bags regularly run the chance of getting used to one style of tackling, simply down to most tackle bags having a simple design and being unlike tackling a player. This leads to players getting used to making challenges which they usually wouldn’t think about making. This is down to players being able to put in challenges with no risks; raising the likelihood of poor tackles.
- Eyes on the prize: If there is one thing which is certain to make you better at putting in those much needed tackles, it is eye contact, and keeping it right through until after the challenge. Keeping your eyes fully open when going into a challenge is going to allow you to see where you need to hit the player to make the most out of the challenge; whether it is putting the player into touch or pushing him back, you will be able to do it a lot easier with your eyes open. Keeping your eyes open isn’t just for tactical gain, but has obvious benefits when stopping injury, as you have a lot less chance of hitting your man in the head/neck with a flailing arm or run into his knees with a low tackle if you are going into the tackle with your eyes on your place of impact.