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Tuesday Sep 15, 2015

Rugby Tactics: The Choke Tackle Epidemic Continues

Rugby Tactics: The Choke Tackle Epidemic Continues

Blight on the game? Dangerous? Or innovative game changer?

This is the choke tackle that we’re sure to see a lot of in the Rugby World Cup.

The Tactic

The choke tackle, popularized by Ireland’s defensive coach Les Kiss in 2011 is when tacklers attempt to hold up the ball carrier to force a turnover. When the ensuing maul is formed and stops moving forward or collapses (and the ball is not immediately available to play) the team NOT in possession is awarded the put in at the scrum.

The Laws

See Law 17.6 for details.

It’s worth noting that when the maul collapses, the defending players have no obligation to roll away or release the ball carrier (it’s not a tackle, remember). And if the ball is not “immediately available” the scrum is awarded to the defending team. In other words, the laws heavily favour the defending team because they’re able to lie on the ball and prevent it from being produced for the attacking team, thus forcing the turnover.

The Future

The Australia’s National Rugby Championship (NRC) is trialing new laws this season and stresses special focus on applying the laws of a maul (Law 10.4 (k) which prohibits intentionally collapsing the maul) to choke tackle scenarios.

Even though the concept of the choke tackle revolves around a maul being formed, they are often deliberately collapsed by the defending team once “maul” is called by the referees but not penalized. We can assume this is because the tackle, maul, and collapse happens very quickly and is often messier than a traditional line out drive.

You can see clearly in this clip, about 7 seconds in that Luke Watson doesn’t come close to joining the maul from his own side. In a lineout drive scenario, this would be picked up by referees immediately, but because of the hectic nature of the choke tackle, things like this get missed and advantage the defending team further.

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  • drg
    12:30 PM 19/09/2015

    I believe collapsing a maul is dangerous, therefore illegal... A maul collapsing on the other hand is generally deemed to be due to clumsy feet not knowing how to walk...

  • drg
    12:29 PM 19/09/2015

    Not entirely sure why this is even being looked at... Its known in the pitch as "HOLD HIM UP"... Or on the attacking side it's known as "you plank, get on the ground"... It's a smothering tackle which as someone up there stated, is a way of punishing a runner who is upright or runs into a wall...

  • colombes
    10:48 AM 16/09/2015

    Curiously, when the irb wants more open game, this type of tackles will create more scrums and won't encourage the offloads with runners going high in the tackle... But i haven't any problem with this 'choke' technique that i would personally rename 'glue' tackle... as attacking players will find new ways to quickly free the ball. Waiting for the first rwc cases, i like the australian evolution of the rule

  • pyes
    3:46 AM 16/09/2015

    I'm not sure what the fuss is - locking onto the ball and holding the player up has been a tactic for years. It is a great way to turnover ball and it forces the attacking player to be conscious of their body position in the tackle. Perhaps the refs should be more strict on players entering from the side, but I don't see any major problems with allowing the play to evolve - it's a clear situation (unlike some rucks) it doesn't hold up the game, it doesn't happen overly frequently and it's not overly dangerous.

  • 11:26 PM 15/09/2015

    1st clip - 6 straight in from the side after a maul had formed. 2nd clip - 4 rebound from the back after becoming detached from the maul. 3rd clip - Ireland did it properly.


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