In the first part we looked at front on tackles. In this part we are looking at side on tackles, these represent the majority of tackles during a rugby match, coming from either directly side on to diagonal or as a result of the ball carrier trying to run around you in a head on situation.
Side on / Forward Diagonal Side On – Roll Tackle
Maybe the easiest tackle to do as it has the least chance of injury nor does it rely on strength or body weight. The key for this tackles effectiveness is to ensure the head is placed behind the leg of the opposing player and the legs are aggressively pulled together side to side (wide to narrow). Mistakes include wrong head placement, selecting the wrong type of side on tackle (see below). A subtle mistake players make is trying to pull the legs together front to back and not side to side. Pulling front to back is trying to go against the big powerful musculature of the hips and legs. Pulling the legs together has little resistance and sucks the power from the forward moving legs and thus you can finish the tackle more easily.
Side on / Forward Diagonal Side On – Crash
Through placing your head in front of the opposing runner you are attempting to hit him and put him on his ass. This tackle needs to be selected appropriately because the strength, speed and weight of the players involved have now become part of the equation. You should ensure that you (your players) clearly understand the difference between putting the head in front of the body in an attempt to put them backwards and prevent any yards being made verses wrapping the legs to roll (head behind) and conceding a few yards in the name of higher tackle success rates.
Side on / Backward Diagonal legs
This tackle happens when in pursuit of runner who has broken the gain line. So you tackle the player from behind. This tackle is almost never practised in training. As a result many players struggle with this. It is especially important for the back row and scrum half’s who often have to make the tackle in their cover defence. The key is head placement and understanding the role of the tackle, which is to bring their legs together to trip them up. Most players try to just use their weight to drag the player down by latching onto them. This works fine if the ball carrier is smaller than you but when roles are reversed the smaller guy needs focus on bringing the legs together to trip them up.
Using this information
Within your rugby club/personal game you need to make clear distinctions about the two types of side on tackle – roll vs crash. Players should be able to choose which ones to use. For the weaker tackles then the roll option is more than sufficient to be good defender. Stronger/better tacklers need to select when to use each type. Almost all players could benefit from in pursuit tackling practice. This, like most tackles will need to be taught from the basics up to begin – however many years the players have been playing.