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Tuesday Mar 26, 2019

Footage of this brutal schoolboy tackle has divided opinions amongst rugby fans

Footage of this brutal schoolboy tackle has divided opinions amongst rugby fans

In the last few days a video has been circulating that has completely split rugby fans. Arguments abound about the legality of it, but also the moral standpoint as some say it looked unnecessarily dangerous. It comes from an Under 14 match in a South African schools festival.

It took place in George at the Kwagga Week, in a match between prominent rugby schools Paarl Boys and Monument. A video seemed to first come to light after famed fearless tackler, Jacques Burger, shared a clip of the incident on twitter.

The pushback was immediate, with journalist Sam Peters – a strong supporter of safety in rugby – questioning it.

Huge question for rugby and @Nabasboer do we celebrate seeing a child smashed head first into rock hard ground or search for ways to avoid? For what it’s worth, watching this makes me physically sick.

That prompted a number of replies and heated debate about laws, player sizes and foul play.

Burger responded:

And later added:

As you can see below, it looks like the small halfback got the ball but took a little too long to pass and got demolished by a young player named Divan Fuller. The tackle appeared to be legal in the sense that he wrapped his arms, it was not high and he appeared to be committed to it (not late).

The outcome, however, was fairly sickening to watch and without the aid of a TMO, the referee decided that a yellow card was in order after the tackled player went face first into the ground.

This is one of the reasons many onlookers are citing it as illegal, by the letter of the law (click through to Burger or Peters’ twitter accounts for more debate).

However, you would have to question what a tackler could do differently in that situation, other than tackle less aggressively. Rugby players are taught to make dominant tackles from a young age and this looks to be a case of just that. Unfortunately there was a huge size mismatch and the shocking – albeit rare – outcome was the smaller player being flipped and landing extremely dangerously.

By all accounts he seems to be okay and is hopefully recovering well from any adverse effects.

credit: Digitv SA/school of rugby


  • Diesel67
    12:51 AM 04/04/2019

    What happened to the video?

    • rugbydump
      3:58 PM 04/04/2019

      The video is still there. Perhaps try on another browser or device

  • Diesel67
    5:07 PM 03/04/2019

    The "rock hard surface" looks like grass, as most rugby pitches are.  Given the huge physical disparities among fourteen-year-old boys, perhaps they should be grouped by body mass index (weight divided by square of height).  But don't train tacklers to tackle less aggressively.  The object is to BUILD MEN.  The British Empire was built on the playing fields of Eton.

  • danknapp
    12:13 PM 27/03/2019

    It's horrible to see this sort of size mismatch at an age-grade level. I'm definitely interested in the idea of bringing a weight/height range into the game. This is just dangerous and is likely to see smaller kids hurt and driven out of the game.I feel for the bigger kid, I don't see what he could have done differently. He didn't lift the kid but he did cause him to hit the ground head first. I also think tackling at the waist at age-grade rugby might encourage more exciting attacking play and might alleviate some of the danger.I'd hate to see the boys I coach getting hit like this, even though I don't think the tackler could have changed much.

  • Jeremysco
    8:10 PM 26/03/2019

    This is U14, an age where sizes differ hugely; when, for safety reasons, Coaches aren't supposed to hold tackle bags, but we ask 4' 6" kids weighing &st to face 6'+ tall 16 stone quazi adults.  Time to get real and use a weight/height range approach between the ages of 12 and 18. It will make the big kids more skilful (as they wont just be able to run through little kids to score) and it will keep smaller kids in the game until they grow. Rather than have them leaving in fear of their health. Put  simply, they are legitimately scared every time they go out on a pitch to play against giants.  

  • jimmy23
    7:20 PM 26/03/2019

    That reminds me of that hit on Plisson by Lawes. Tackle is by all means legal but the sheer force of the tackle cause the receiver to land on his head. It's a brutal hit for sure, but I don't think he should have been penalised. As mentioned, the only way that wouldn't have happened is if the tackler didn't hit him as hard. I'm with Burger on this one. It's a contact sport. You can improve player's technique as much as you want but sometimes, shit happens. 

    • Bruce
      2:52 AM 27/03/2019

      The fact that he landed on his head is what makes the tackle illegal. It's the tackler's job to make sure that doesn't happen.

      • jimmy23
        3:13 PM 27/03/2019
        Top Comment

        "A player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground." The tackler here didn't lift him, he just hit him so hard that his body flipped. Again, the only way this couldn't have happened is if the player didn't hit as hard. If we're going to make judgements on how much force a tackler should put into a tackle then we might as well give up. 


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