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CoacHclass Top Tips XIII

Our latest Top Tip focuses on the Smother Tackle

Ann Baldwin

Rugby's biggest powers come together to provide the rugby course experience of a lifetime. Premiership Rugby Academy Camp, run in association with O2.

London Wasps CoacHclass is supported by Chiltern Railways

The Smother Tackle


As this is Number 13 of our CoacHclass Top Tips series, we will focus on a skill that is a major strength of London Wasps' very own Number 13 and Heineken Cup man Of The Match - Fraser Waters. The ability to smother tackle and stop the forward momentum of a ball carrier; preventing the ball carrier from releasing the ball and regaining possession. Fraser has used this skill to great effect during his illustrious career that has seen him become an integral part of the London Wasps Blitz Defence and silverware collection.

The Smother Tackle technique is also part of the CoacHclass intinerary that will be coached at our Summer CoacHclasses

All techniques are coached with the emphasis that we place on the Principles Of Play and Principles of Defence:

Principles Of Play:


  • Gain Possession
  • Go Forward
  • Support
  • Continuity
  • Pressure
  • Points
WDC Chairman John Savage

Principles of Defence:


  • Go Forward
  • With the Support of teammates
  • To apply Pressure
  • And Regain Possession
  • To Attack

Objective: To stop forward momentum of a ball carrier, prevent the ball carrier from releasing the ball and regain possession.

Key Factors:


  • Sight the target
  • Move forward towards the ball carrier
  • Plant the foot as close to the ball carrier as possible ('to or through')
  • Drive with the shoulder firmly to make contact just above the position of the ball
  • Wrap with the arms to prevent the ball being released or grab the ball carrier by the jersey
  • Continue to drive the ball carrier back
  • Turn the ball carrier towards supporting team mates
  • Take the ball carrier to the ground, turning the player
  • Stay on feet or regain feet
  • Contest possession
Alan Courcha

Coaching Points:


  • The maul law ('use it or lose it') has increased the use of the smother tackle
  • By making firm contact with the shoulder above the ball and wrapping with the arms, the tackler prevents its release
  • A maul usually forms and, in most cases, the tactical option is to prevent the release while supporting team mates ensure the maul remains stationary or is driven back
  • When the ball carrier is standing, use the tackler's weight and body strength to take the ball to the ground
  • Any urgency is with the ball carrier, whose team will lose the put-in to the scrum if they are unable to deliver the ball
  • If the tackler remains on his feet throughout the tackle, they have a better chance of contesting for the ball on the ground

Common Errors:


  • Too high
  • Not moving forward into the tackle
  • Head down, eyes closed

Key Words:


Sight Target + Go Forward + Hit With Shoulder + Wrap With Arms + Continue Drive + Stay On Feet + Contest Possession

CoacHclass Top Tips Series


CoacHclass Top Tips - Popping the ball out of the tackle
CoacHclass Top Tips II - Decision-making in attack
CoacHclass Top Tips III - Rucking
CoacHclass Top Tips IV - Evasive Running
CoacHclass Top Tips V The Fend / Hand Off
CoacHclass Top Tips VI The Three-Point Principle before, during and after contact
CoacHclass Top Tips VIIThe Switch and Scissor Passes
CoacHclass Top Tips VIII Back Attack Roles
CoacHclass Top Tips IX Gaining Possession
CoacHclass Top Tips XPrinciples Of Defence
CoacHclass Top Tips XIThe Maul
CoacHclass Top Tips XII Taking The Ball In To Contact

Summer CoacHclass


5-Day Residential 'Be Your Best' Academy CoacHclass at SEAE Arborfield with London Wasps and the British Army
30th July 2007 to 3rd August 2007

Under 14s to Under 18s
Click the London Wasps logo on-line at rugbycamps.com

3-Day Summer CoacHclass at Aylesbury RFC
14th to 16th August 2007
Under 8s to Under 15s
Click the London Wasps logo on-line at rugbycamps.com

3-Day Summer CoacHclass at the London Wasps Training Ground, Twyford Avenue, Acton
21st to 23rd August 2007
Under 8s to Under 15s
Click the London Wasps logo on-line at rugbycamps.com

3-Day Summer CoacHclass at High Wycombe RUFC
28th to 30th August 2007
Under 8s to Under 15s
Click the London Wasps logo on-line at rugbycamps.com/www.rugbycamps.com' target='_blank'>Click the London Wasps logo on-line at rugbycamps.com