Watching the modern rugby game, there are many examples of good Rugby Technique in use – the ‘rip-tackle’ of the ball, being the popular target for defenders. This is evident in Super Rugby, Champions Cup and at many levels of the game.
The objective; to remove the ball from opponents possession.
Now that might seem like a variable that boys and girls are taught from a young age, but if you consider the coaching techniques which are the norm – ripping the ball off your opponent is not high in the checklist. Passing, defence, reading space and timing the pass (to your left and to your right) are core skills.
But the ‘rip-tackle’ today is used more by players across the park. Not just hulking forwards; whose role can often be to keep opponents on their feet in the tackle. This technique is seen when a player can get a hand in between the tackled player and the ball. Then an aggressive up or downward rip of the ball can produce handling errors/turnover ball.
Possession is still such a critical area of the ball, that if you can either hold a player up off their knees, then look to rip the ball away from them, is useful tactic used by both backs and forwards alike.
Note picture-left; Rieko Ioane of the Blues forces his left arm up, to punch the ball out of Ardie Savea’s possession. The look on the power-forwards face says it all.
‘Rip-tackle’ an effective weapon
Several examples were seen over this weekend, in competitions like Super Rugby or the Heineken Champions Cup final. Several demonstrate a typical ‘rip-tackle’ that causes turnover ball.
Ripping the ball off an opponent creates instant attacking opportunities. And in the modern game, gaining that possession or extra meter of space, is of tremendous benefit. Ioane and Beauden Barrett use the technique well.
The below video highlights package shows how, and importantly ‘who’ is causing those critical turnovers.
Players who are becoming experts at this skill range across the board. Maro Itoje, Kurtley Beale, and others are developing this skill, when the opportunity arises. TJ Perenara appears to constantly be aiming to insert his arm between the tackler and the ball. He uses a ripping technique, attempting to separate contact with the ball, to gain a turnover.
Reward in adding this Rugby technique to your Skillset
Over time, players look at their micro-skills, adding to basic drills and their core roles, to fashion their individual skill set. Kicking – not often encouraged by forwards coaches – is always a skill that gives players additional options.
Defensively, tackling has evolved. Even with a concentration lower the tackle area, to prevent head injuries and to be within the laws of the game, retaining possession is a key training technique.
As much as players look to the breakdown as opportunities, the complicated and interpretive nature of the ruck-ball area, can see penalties negate any reward. So while Ardie Savea or Billy Vunipola can steal the ball off the floor, Barrett and others target the rip-tackle as an offensive weapon.
Included in player training tool bags now includes an effective rugby technique, to pull at the grip of your opponent. Minding not to allow that player to offload the ball of course.
Coaches are using it; like the shoulder-roll [used correctly], as defensive skills basics. It sits beside holding the ball, which is the counter to this rugby technique – don’t allow the defender to steal the ball!
So both elements can be inserted into training drills.
So while the art of tackling is both a complex and evolving factor in the game, effective rugby technique can bring rewards. Steal the ball, gain a turnover and then counter-attack. The video highlights show several players running away to score tries. The ultimate reward….a Meat Pie.
No wonder fans see it more and more today. So the message is both to ‘hold the ball’ and, to use the ‘rip-tackle’ as an offensive weapon.
“Main photo credit”
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