Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Teams losing their feet over old law by David Clarke

Sealing and bridging is confirmed as illegal. This month referees were told to be more vigilant in the tackle contest area and lots of teams struggled.


This is mainly because of poor technique in the contact area. Players go off their feet because they are not balanced as they arrive and they tend to drive down and not up.


Here is that ruling again, plus a clip of a ruck drill.


From the IRB website:


Law 15 – Tackle


It has become evident that players are going to ground over or on ball carriers which has become known as sealing off. On some occasions they remain in that position and fail to move away contravening Law. Furthermore players are going to ground or on top of players after a tackle thereby ensuring that the opposition cannot contest possession. Such actions are in breech of Laws 15.6 (g), 15.7 (c) and 15.7 (d).


Referees are requested to be more vigilant in this area of the Game and to ensure that both teams are treated equally at the breakdown.


Law 16 – Ruck


It has become common practice for players to move the ball from rucks using their hands and to pick the ball up in a ruck to form a maul. It is also evident that players of the ball carrying team are being allowed to handle the ball in the ruck when defenders are being told to leave the ball alone.


Law 16.4 (d) is to be refereed at all times and applied to both the attacking and defending teams.


And here is a little drill from the Ford Rugby Academy to help your players stay on their feet.


15 Comments so far
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Surely the last dril with the support player holding onto the tackled player is sealing and therefore illegal!! if you are being supported by the player on the ground, or not capable of suporting yourself you are in anillegal position.

Comment by James

Referring to this as an ‘old law’ is misleading and wrong. This law has not changed and is not part of the ELVs. Refs have simply been given a directive by the IRB to be more vigilant.

Comment by Roy

Does not the small training video show sealing.
This is certainly waht we’ve been led to believe as coaches of junior sides in the North mids?

Comment by mark

In reply to sealing:
The player is not lying on top of the player and if the player on the ground was moved away then the player on top would be self supporting. Ideally this player should be lower in the hips because he is exposing his neck.
The drill is good in the sense it shows ways of clearing out the players.

When I said old law, it is meant as you put it. I was distinguishing between the ELVs being new and the other laws as being there and so old. However I can understand why it must be misleading.


Comment by admin

The last drill in the movie is illegal, you can’t lean on the player on the floor as he acts as a support to you, and you are sealing. Surely we should be getting our players to ruck past tackled player and ball and then we’d get a more fluid game and none of this premiership rugby league !”£$%^&!!.

Comment by James

I have looked for this on the IRB and cannot find it. Dan can you provide a link to this?

Thank You!

Comment by fkprop

Here is the link:

Comment by admin


Comment by des

The problem with sealing is that you are preventing the player on the floor from rolling away from the tackle areea; hence I say sealing is illegal!

Comment by James

The tackler must attempt to roll away…..but dont think I’ve seen a player at any level of the game planting the ball on the deck and try to roll away and thus give the ball up…he must “plant” the ball and remove his hand (many do not!)..he can plant the ball get back to his feet and play the ball…BOD or Dan Carter would’nt be quick enough to accomplish this without getting seriously planted himself in the attempt! The Laws leave a lot open to the interpretation of each individual referee,for sure and this law at rucks is a problem. Sealing the ball as in the video clip is fair game in my view.

Comment by des

[…] Teams losing their feet over old law […]

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Des, Go to RFU website and RULES and REGULATIONS > SCHOOLS & YOUTH > Appendix 1 – U19 Law Variations > 3 Shoulders above Hips. This pretty much makes sealing illegal inthe junior game

Comment by James

Maybe so James, but are we discussing schools/U-19 rugby or men’s club rugby? Where is Dan’s input on this? We played a game today and sealing was permitted while on your feet but bridging was notof course.

Comment by des

It comes down to the referees dealing with it. Jonathan Kaplan was roasted for his handling of the recent Tri-Nations game when it seems a lot of this was going on. If the refs deal with it properly, it will soon disappear.

Comment by Steve Johnson

This is extremely simple in the laws. Players cannot enter a ruck or maul with the head lower than the hips. At the ruck, were this law applied effectivley bridging and sealing would be nigh on impossible. It is mentioned twice on the IRB website in the full guide to the laws, law 16.

Comment by iwan

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