If you watched the amazing final day of the 6 nations you would have seen a bucket load of tries, a bone crunching hit by Courtney Lawes and Leigh Halfpenny giving himself concussion. The final incident had the commentators and panel pundits all bemoaning the tackling technique of Leigh Halfpenny. If you didn’t see the incident then watch the clip below –
I personally do not think it was bad tackling technique per se but more the victim of test match rugby requirements. The head in front technique is the standard tackling method taught in American football because it is the most effective at preventing players gaining extra inches or yards after contact. The downside is that you have a good chance of taking a knee in the head, which in American Football is much less of a problem than rugby where you have no helmet for protection.
Leigh Halfpenny went almost 2 years without missing a tackle playing for Wales and numerous times he was hurt bringing down his opponent. Fullback is a position where it is commonplace you will face a one on one tackle and worse still often the opponent normally has enough time to build up a head of steam. The main issue here is not Leigh Halfpenny having a poor tackling technique but more the fact if he changes his tackling style he will start missing more tackles. If he had put his head to the right of the monster number 8 Samuela Vunisa he would most likely been shrugged off and missed the tackle. Through putting his head in front of the legs he would almost certainly bring him down yet runs the risk of a mistimed tackle resulting in a knee in the head.
The pressure of test rugby means making a try saving tackle is more important than playing the injury risk percentages. This is why he has never changed his technique despite people bemoaning his style.
For the average player this method of tackling is unwise and shouldn’t be taught or used in lower level rugby. For Halfpenny’s career himself he should also change his technique. The reality is he wont do that anytime soon. Here are a couple more head in front tackles he made –
For more on tackling techniques check out the 11 Types of Tackle>>>