With NFL Concussions at High, League Needs Rugby Tackling Technique

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Screen shots from the Seattle Seahawks tackling video.
A screen shot from the Seattle Seahawks’ tackling video.

RWU HQ – After a steady decline in each of the last three years, NFL Concussions have reached a four-year high in the NFL. This season saw 271 concussions take place, compared to 206 in 2004. Something needs to change.

More teams need to start teaching rugby-style tackling. And not just at the professional level. It has to start at the bottom – the youth level.

Because they’re both collision sports, contact sports, people think of rugby and football being as very similar,” Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization president Bill Good said, via Breitbart Sports. “But there’s a substantial difference. And that’s the equipment.

Because there is no equipment in rugby, players use completely different techniques. We tackle with our heads behind the player. We have to wrap. We can’t leave the ground when we tackle. We can’t shoulder charge. So, all of those contribute to a safer form of contact.

Jeff Siner - Charlotte Observer - TNS
Jeff Siner – Charlotte Observer – TNS

There are examples of teams at the professional, collegiate and high school level that teach rugby-style tackling, but not enough.

“Football players, because of the historic way they’ve been taught—they’re starting to change now— they’ve always used their heads as part of the tackle,” Good said. “That leads to injuries. Lately you see more and more football teams bringing rugby coaches in to help them with that tackling.”

It’s almost worth wondering if the best way to institute this technique would be by having teams play rugby, or at least tackle football without pads, for the first week of practice. I understand this idea sounds rash, but hold on for a second.

Rugby is known to be the safer sport when compared to football. Why? Because there are no pads. If you removed the pads from these athletes and taught them the correct way to tackle, chances are good that they’d learn to tackle better.

If you started day one teaching rugby-style tackling, and by day three or four got to full contact and still weren’t using pads you might see a difference. If rugby players can tackle safely, so can football players.

While you still risk the possibility of players going back to old habits once they put pads back on, there’s still a good

Another screen shot from the Seahawks' video.
Another screen shot from the Seahawks’ video.

chance they’d stick to their new techniques.

More teams need to follow in the footsteps of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have been practice rugby-style tackling for a couple of years now and it’s worked for them. Seattle is considered to have one of the NFL’s best defenses.

I believe that’s how the game was originally played when the guys were wearing leather helmets or the helmets without the face masks,” Seattle assistant head coach/defense Rocky Seto said, via ESPN.com. “You didn’t want to put your nose right into someone’s chest or knee. You’re going to get hurt. So that’s just what the rugby guys do, as well. They try to get contact with the shoulders. So that’s the biggest principle.

What do you think? Is this a good strategy or is there another way? 

That is it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Jamie Wall,Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Ronan Nelson, Kyle Phillips and Declan Yeats, respectively.

About DJ Eberle 198 Articles
DJ Eberle is easily the largest of the RWU Team; Offensive Tackle Large. In fact, this Albany native played OT for Western New England University until he graduated in 2014. Like Junoir Blaber, he's moonlights on MeetTheMatts.com. His Dad played prop with Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and Matt McCarthy - who also in a MeetTheMatts.com moonlighter. DJ's cross to bear, however, is his love for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. There is hope, though, that his genetic inclination for Rugby, will cure him of that! Follow him on Twitter: @DJEberle66