The tackle in Rugby Union : understanding training and match behaviours to develop better coaching strategies for skill acquisition, performance, and injury prevention

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Rugby Union is a popular international team sport characterised by frequent high impact bodily collisions known as the tackle. This aspect of the game exposes players to muscle damage and a high risk of injury. Tackle-related injuries account for up to 61% of all injuries during a rugby match. Furthermore, players’ ability to win the tackle contest has an influence on the outcome of the match. Given the nature and frequency of the tackle situation, tackle contact skills are a prerequisite for participation in rugby union. However, coaching and training drills prescribed to train the tackle to date are largely based on anecdotal evidence. To develop effective tackle training strategies (i.e. technical skills training, physical conditioning, training drills, and equipment) that will produce a successful outcome and reduce the risk of injury for both the ball-carrier and tackler, studying the tackle in real match situations is warranted. Therefore, in accordance with this goal the purpose of this thesis was to; (i) assess the current attitudes and behaviours of players during training and match play, and (ii) study the tackle and defensive strategies in real match situations.

Includes abstract.~Includes bibliographical references.