Avoid tackles

In rugby you want to avoid tackles so pass or kick or run around (away from) tacklers, right? Sometimes it is best to run AT tacklers. When, why and how you do it.

Avoid being tackled

You may pass or kick or try to run away from (around) players trying to tackle you.

If you want more options you may be interested in evasion techniques. This video is a brief, light hearted introduction

Why run AT them - you want to get away!

Playing rugby you are always trying to move the ball forwards, towards the opposition players and their goal-line.

They will be trying to stop you, the ball carrier, by getting hold of you and throwing you on the floor!

Leaving aside passing the ball to another player or kicking the ball past the opposition, you have to carry it past them.

Most players will instinctively run at an angle, straight enough to get past the would-be tackler and yet sideways enough to stay out of reach and not to be tackled.

The problem is that your opponents will almost always have a shorter distance to travel to a potential tackle position than you do. The nearer you get to each other, the more you have to change the angle until you`re running across the field.

This means they will almost always be in a position to get their hands on you and/or make it difficult to get past.

To make the break, you need to be significantly faster so your speed is the deciding factor or you need to be significantly bigger and stonger to burst through attempted tackles.

Run at them to avoid tackles and you remove their advantage. You no longer have to run further than they do to get to the same place.

When you run AT them you tend to fix them in position.

They have several choices...

  • stay in position - waiting, wondering what you are going to do
  • move directly towards you - hoping to cut down your options
  • back off - delay the confrontation, hoping to gain an advantage

Any of these actions is to your advantage. You are acting - they have to work out what is happening, only then can they react.

When to run at the opposition

Each time you get the ball you select from a number of different options

  • pass to a supporting player
  • perform one of a range of kicks to improve the overall situation
  • run at the opposition knowing you are likely to be tackled

  • attempt to run around (away from) the tackler
  • run at the opposition intending to get past

You mix up the options you take, to keep them guessing

When do you run at the opposition intending to get past?

When the time is right, you have the skills and the chances and benefits of success outweigh the risks of failure. It will tend to be

  • towards their end of the field, their try line rather than near yours
  • when you believe there is a weakness in the defensive line
  • when you have surprise on your side

  • when you have excellent evasion skills
  • when you have no other option - have a go!

Avoid tackles - when you run at tacklers

You just run straight towards them, knowing that you are likely to triumph because you have picked your moment and you have excellent evasion skills.

You`ve turned it from a foot race into a different type of contest. It`s now a battle of wits / agility contest.

When you have the wits and the agility you have huge advantages

  • you know what is going to happen next - rather than attempt to smash through or accept the tackle, you`re going to avoid tackles by using clever footwork
  • you know exactly when it`s going to happen

You`ll see and hear the skills referred to in all sorts of different ways

  • sidesteps, side steps, sidestepping, step, steps, stepping, sidestepper
  • all of the above with rugby in front e.g. rugby step
  • footwork which is clever, fancy, neat, evasisve

  • dancing, does the dance, jinking, jinker, in and away
  • evasion, evasion skills, evasion techniques, EvtecHsTM
  • beating, getting past, avoiding, fooling, avoiding tackles

Despite the importance of these skills you will find details in very few places.

This site teaches evasion

Explore evasion on the sidesteps pages.