Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Can you live without tackle pads? by David Clarke

Coach carrying tackle pads

Tackle pads, bags and tubes all have a place in rugby training. (I am not sponsored by a manufacturer!)

But can you do a session without them? Some coaches are anti-pads. Andy Robinson MBE, the forwards coach when England won the World Cup in 2003, said to me at the time he hated them. England’s physicality in that era marked them out from other teams.

Since pads are something to run into, then that’s what players do. They are not great “avoiders” of the soft pads.

Of course, they are not to be avoid when making tackles, reducing the impact for the player, allowing greater repetition.

The trouble lies in their elasticity. Imagine how many fewer handling errors your players would make if it was a pillow they were catching and not a hard ball. A tackle pad has similar properties, allowing greater error of timing at the impact. The tackled player is not likely to have, or want to have, the same give.

You can live without tackle pads, because sometimes someone forgets to bring, you lose the key to the store room or the side cannot afford such luxuries. You can also live without them when you are training. There is some research to suggest that training aids that do not replicate the game very closely are a waste of time. (Brent S. Rushall February 1997)

Better Rugby Coaching

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I agree with the comment that tackle pads are a waste of time. I coach a team of U16 and I only use tackle suits just to give a bit of protection. Using suits promotes a more game related situation as the player wearing it is able to move naturaly, use arms and hands and gives a more realistic reaction to the person who runs into it. Using a bag causes the players to become lazy in their body position as there is little chance of them getting hurt.

Comment by Scott Kennedy

Nice post Dan. We find bags useful in the pre-match warm up. I also like to use them when fine tuning tackling technique, allowing for a high repetition in a short time-span. However there is an over-reliance on equipment. They encourage contact and offer a focus point for ball carriers when they should be scanning and playing for space!

Comment by eskimorugby




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