RWU HQ – You may remember I first mentioned the concept of the Rugby Tackling Technique making it’s way to football here in the USA, back in August. It all started in the NFL with Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. During training camp, Carroll released a video demonstrating a safer way to tackle – the way ruggers tackle.
“We have found that we can practice and drill our tackling without pads or a helmet,” said Carroll, according to Pro Football Talk. “This system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have truly taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.”
And now, a couple of months later, this rugby-style of tackling has made it’s way to the high school level. Like Carroll and the Seahawks, the Menlo School in California is embracing this safer way of tackling. Menlo head coach Mark Newton has implemented the style of tackling as a way to reduce the risk of concussions for his athletes.
“The players bought in right away,” Newton said, according to Pam McKenney of Menlo School Athletics and Pal Alto Online. “We told them the philosophy behind it, explained that the Seahawks were doing a similar type of tackling – we’re not doing exactly the same thing – but they put a lot of trust in us. It took a little while to change some of their patterns.”
Newton even took it a step further by bringing in Gene Mountjoy, co-founder of the USA International Rugby Academy and Santa Clara University rugby, as the team’s tackling coach. Newton has been working with players and coaches this season to help drive home this new tackling style.
“I can see how the kids are progressing. We want them to get low, so they’re in a safe body position,” Mountjoy said. “The idea is ‘Don’t use your head as a missile. You cannot lead with your head and have no regard for your neck. Hands in front, track players with your hips and attach hands to your opponents core.‘”
Menlo using this new rugby-style tackling technique is a great (and important) second step, but in order for this to make a foundation in American football more teams around the NFL, and in major college football, need to start using the technique. If an organization like USA Football, the non-profit organization that promotes safe football, could start teaching this in youth programs throughout the country than the rugby-style tackling technique could be here to stay. But no the less, it is great that the Menlo School is using this new technique and hopefully more schools follow suit.
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