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What drills would you suggest to get players to focus on poaching the ball in rugby?

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One very good practice is called "Tackle/Jackal" and involves getting your players to tackle and then get back to their feet as quickly as possible and to get their hands on the ball and "poach" it before the opposition players can arrive.

The thinking here is: Who is the nearest of your players to the ball at this breakdown and the answer is, of course, the tackler. But the tackler is out of the game until they are back on their feet so they must be very quick to regain their feet. Think of Richie McCaw!

Some coaches coach the tackler using the tackled players body to support their weight as they get up (and so prevent them being able to get up and play the ball) but this is obviously illegal and so must not be coached!

Use simple one v one tackling drills in 10m grids. You candition the practice so that the tackler is always successful at first and then by widening the area make the tackler work harder.

I hope this helps


G'day, John

Simon, as usual, is right on the money!

A couple of things to perhaps add:

1. The jackal really requires a low tackle - put the man on the deck quickly. Having done that, the tackler (who should have finished on top of the ball-carrier) swings his top leg around as quickly as possible so that he is facing upfield (towards the opponents' tryline).

In essence, he is using the tackled player's body almost as a fulcrum -getting purchase off him as he raises himself off the tackled player to start the spin (without using illegal play).If the tackler focuses on this quick swinging of the top leg rather than first getting up fully and then trying it, his body height will remain low and strong and close to the ball. Add another player from the ball-carrier's side to come into the breakdown area and test out the jackler's speed to his feet and strength over the ball

2. You can also practice the 2-man tackle where one tackles low while the other totally focuses on wrapping up the ball. If the low tackler has done his job then the ball-carrier will be falling to the ground with the high tackler keeping his feet and wrestling for the ball. Just a couple of thoughts anyway...

Cheers Robbo

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