Rugby drill to coach tacklers to get into the correct position

This rugby drill session gets your tacklers producing the correct "high, low, high" body positions in the lead up to, and during, a tackle.

What you tell your players the rugby drill session is about

  • Making more aggressive tackles through better contact with the ball carrier.

  • Allowing defenders more chances to turnover the ball.
What you get your players to do in the drill

Set up a ball carrier and defender in a 3-metre square. The ball carrier bounces and steps around the box, while the defender waits until they are close enough to make a tackle.

Keep emphasising that the defender also needs to move and stay “high” until they can make the tackle. When ready, the defender “sits” and drives up to make the tackle.

You can run the rugby drill session with lots of squares and players. Ensure there is plenty of space between the squares and the ball carriers hold the ball in both hands.

Develop the rugby drill
  • Have the ball carrier jog into the 3-metre square with the aim of beating the defender. Increase the width of the box according to the success rate.

  • Have two attackers and one defender in the box.

Rugby drill session to get tacklers practising high, low, high position

The tackler stands high until the ball carrier is close enough to tackle. He then gets low, steps in and drives up when making the contact.

What to shout in this rugby drill session

  • “Keep eyes on the target all the time and keep them open through the tackle.”

  • “Make contact with the shoulder first.”

  • “Bend at the knees and hips, not the back.”

  • “Clamp the arms and keep the feet on the ground through the tackle.”
What to look out for in the drill

Mistimed tackles. Tacklers must concentrate on not committing to the tackle until the ball carrier is close. The tackler should try to get their foot forward and drive in with their shoulder at the same time. Eyes off the target. Too often, tacklers lower their heads and take their eyes off the target. Tacklers must keep their head up at all times, and their chin off their chest.

What to think about
  • What situations suit the “high, low, high” style of tackling?

  • Can your defenders “finish” the tackle by trying to retrieve the ball?

  • How might your players counter the hand off?

  • Do you want your players to tackle the “ball” as well as the “man”?

  • Does that suit some, or all, of your players?
How to put this rugby drill into a game situation

Set up three attackers and two defenders at each end of a 10 metre wide by 5 metre long box. You pass the ball to the attackers who have to score over the defenders’ line.

After all the players have spent time performing each role, double the dimensions of the box and the number of players on each side.

Defenders should not only concentrate on “high, low, high” tackling, but on communication. This should be easier given they are standing upright for longer.

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