Can I and should I coach basic tackle skills to U8s?

Can I and should I coach basic tackle skills to U8s?

Does anyone have a definitive answer to this question%3A can I coach basic tackling skills to U8s now, in preparation for next season, without falling foul of any RFU rules or regulations?


Hugo Norton-TaylorCoach, England
Rugby CoachCoach

yes sure thing

Lindsay jamesCoach, England

yes you can. start off low on thier knees. 

Rugby CoachCoach

From Feb 1st onwards, you are allowed. Start with players on their knees and progress as they get the technique.

Rugby CoachCoach

Hi - I didn't think that you can.  My understanding was that no contact tackling was allowed until the official start of the U9 season in September.

I have heard of a coach starting to teach it to U8s -> U9s during Summer training in July, and being reported to the RFU.

Can anyone please point me to guidance on the RFU site / any other site that definitively states that we can?

I don't want to doubt, or contradict anyone, I just want to be careful.


Jan DuncanAdministrator, England

We have just discussed this at our County Age Grade committee meeting and, according to the RFU handbook, it states no tackling practise allowed until the start of the u9 season in September, our County secretary read it out so you need to get your hands on one of those which is up to date as things have changed over the last few years

ian diddamsCoach, England

The bottom line is that of course, yes you can coach it - but you will NOT be covered by any RFU insurances (this is assuming you are in England). So any accidents attracting an ambulance shaser lawyer will see your house up for grabs.

Jan and Rob are spot on the money. 

regulation 15 appendix 1a, paras 10 & 11 cover it perfectly.

10. No Contact
The only contact allowed between the two teams is the removal of a tag from the belt of the ball carrier. Any other type of contact on the ball carrier, such as shirt pulling, running in front of or barging the ball carrier, forcing the ball carrier into touch, etc must be penalised with a free pass and the players concerned reminded of the rules.

11. Prohibited Play
In Mini Tag Rugby, there is total emphasis on running with the ball, evasion, running in support of the ball carrier, passing and running to tag the ball carrier. In Mini Tag Rugby there is:
(a) no tackling;
(b) no scrummage;
(c) no line-out;
(d) no kicking;
(e) no hand off/fend off (a hand off being the placing of an open palmed hand by the ball carrier against an opponent’s face or body while a fend off is an outstretched arm by the ball carrier towards an opponent to discourage that person making a tag);
(f) no going to ground; and
(g) no ripping of the ball

The Feb 1st thing disappeared years ago - if you are an English club then your Club Coaching Coordinator should be able to advise you on this.


Paul ReedCoach, Australia

Hi there I coach an under 8 side in Australia we can tackle at this age in a 8 a side game with non-contested 3 man scrums the kids have really come a long way in the development of the game and seem to have a good understanding of the technique required to make a good tackle I started with a tackle bag the progressed to tackling each other a good game to play is sumo wrestling set out a circle and get two kids push and drive each other out of the ring making sure when there pushing each other they make contact low and they drive with there legs (ie tackling technique)

Tackling is an important part of the game so the sooner the kids learn how to tackle the easyer it will be to coach other parts of the game


Rugby CoachCoach

In Canada we are not allowed to coach tackling or any form of contact until U12, due to insurance.  Being an ex South African player, this feel way late in their development, making coaching interesting at U12, as the game of rugby is suddenly new to most progressing from U10 or even U8.  All depends on your laws, but it basically come down to insurance and coach accountability.

Rugby CoachCoach

in nz all rugby is tackle from u8s onwards and the kids enjoy it ..  my youngest son plays rugby and league (which is tackle from scratch .. u5s

Philip RatcliffeCoach, Italy

In Italy too%3A all minirugby (we start at U6) is full contact and so tackling has to coached.

Phil MasonCoach, England

Hi, I too am starting U8's coaching next year.  Correct me if I'm wrong - but some of the interpretation above (in respect of the NO to tackling) relates (quite correctly) to matches.  Not to coaching sessions.

The question is - can we COACH tackling (as suggested on knees and slowly at first) in preperation for next season.  It seems entirely sensible, and safer in the long run, to start TEACHING the skills required to tackle safely this year, and getting them ingrained into their play - rather than the suggestion that we have to rush this development in the few weeks before competitive play starts at the U9's age.

I will be coaching tackling this year.   But will continue to play NON-contact Tag for competitive play this year.


PaddyCoach, Portugal

Here in Portugal we have full contact in matches from U8 on, so yes we tackle in training from knees up and gently. Kids actually say they 'hate' sessions with no contact! 5-a-side matches at U8 and 7-a-side at U10 (no under9s!)

No lineout or scrums at this age in matches, but can ruck and rip - we teach 'pair of hands' or 'digger' to rip. Taught lineout and 3-man scrums without pushing a bit in U10 to preview next year U12.

Focus is definitely on runing, evading and passing though.


PaddyCoach, Portugal

I agree with Phil there is a difference between what the rules of competition are and what you teach in training. We've done lots of kicking in practices but here they can't kick in games till U12.

Obviously, not sure what your local insurance rules are on that! Here we're covered.

Basically Hugo, no definitve answer yet!! Sorry.

Rugby CoachCoach

I coach in Germany in North Rhein Westfalia(every Region is different) and we play Tag. We found last year that our U8 players who progressed in September to U10 were getting the shock of their lives. Of the U8 players who are moving up this Summer we have been coaching them for about two months now on tackle Techniques. We felt that this was the solution. We still played Tag Rugby however in games.

Rugby CoachCoach

To the guys who reckon that it's okay to coach tackling so long as they don't tackle in matches.............Good luck lads,  I reckon parents will be having you.

If I remember the continuum correctly, all Mini matches are a continuation of training.

The question I have is why do you want to introduce tackling to a tag team? There's plenty of other techniques and skills the kids need.

Rugby CoachCoach

I start by teaching them how to fall - a similar manoevre to a parachutist's drop%3A on soft ground, from a standing position, they roll down and to the side as they bend their knees and hips, and so roll the torso onto the ground. Ensure the arms are crossed in front of the chest the whole time.

From there, once they are confident they can fall without hurting themselves, and as soon as the RFU allow, they can work up to a tackle by first making a static tackle%3A standing next to the person to be tackled, bend/crouch to the correct position, wrap the arms around the waist and push gently. The child being tackled goes down as already taught, at first easily, but then with increasing resistance as confidence grows.

Douglas KuitCoach, England

I only start introductory work in the last 2-3 weeks of the season after all festivals have completed. There is a huge amount of preparation work that you can do without actually tackling. 

I work really hard at%3A-

1) Building their confidence with contact with simple wrestling style exercises, sumo wrestling (chest to chest, one arm over shoulder other arm around waist), competing for the ball by trying to hold the ball holder up, whilst the ball holder

2) Working on their footwork so that they%3A-

    a) get close in to the player to be tackled. Play two handed touch on hips rugby 

    b) right foot - right shoulder / left foot left shoulder

    c) getting head on correct side when driving shoulder into tackle shield at walking / jogging pace only (note%3A players must hold tackle shields not the coaches) 

3) Falling and rolling are FUNdamental skills which should already be part of sessions so I work on parachute falls with two hands on ball and forward rolls on left and right shoulders (bear crawl into forward roll tucking right arm under body so that they roll onto right shoulder blade and vise versa.

4) body positioning - hands up / elbows in boxer style, lower hips, flat back, neutral neck/head eyes looking forward over eyebrows etc

I believe that too many coaches progress too quickly into the actual tackle drills and neglect the "build the confidence phase". This may work of around a 1/3rd of players but the bulk of players need a slowly slowly approach otherwise they just switch off and avoid the tackle in games in my experience.

Rugby CoachCoach

Try and keep any tackling to post tag/pre new season period, as this will keep any confusion to a minimum. Use the time period given to build their confidence, as well as their skills. Introduce them to each type of tackle to be used one at a time. Try and bring in older players to show the younger ones on what to do. Remember that some players pick it up quicker than others - just keep showing them.

Rugby CoachCoach

Hi Hugo -  a definative answer from the RFU WEBSITE ........

5.2 Out of season

Players can participate in non–contact activities and other activities that fall within the definition of "Pre-Approved Activity" that allow them to develop their confidence, decision making, game understanding and spatial awareness. Ideas for age appropriate rugby-based activity are provided on [link removed] and ideas for non-contact invasion games (where one team invades another’s territory are provided on [link removed] These activities should not be compulsory and the option to take a break from the club for the duration of the summer should be respected and supported.

Touch rugby is fun for all ages and can be played as a mixed game all year. It allows players to enhance their rugby skills of handling, evasion and support play. It should, however, be risk assessed in the usual way in accordance with RFU Regulation 15.7

Under 7s and 8s should not take part in contact rugby activities. At a latter stage of the U8 season coaches may wish to include some of the activities outlined in the RFU Tag to Tackle resource, which enables children to prepare for contact in an enjoyable and safe way, whilst retaining the core elements of evasion, handling and support. Tag to Tackle helps add variety to the coaching sessions. It is important that children are allowed to enjoy Tag rugby, before being introduced to the contact game.

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