Yellow cards used at training to perfect tackling technique

Glenn Delaney
Glenn Delaney
The Highlanders are dishing out their own yellow cards at training as they adjust to the tough stance taken on tackling this season.

The opening two rounds of Super Rugby have been littered with yellow cards for high tackles, many of which have become game-changing.

Assistant coach Glenn Delaney, in charge of defence for his team as it gets ready to face the Stormers on Friday night, said the game was becoming more combative and tackling technique was important.

That meant time on the training paddock was vital and it had to become more like a game.

``It is brutal and that is the way it should be. It is a combative sport and you have to be aggressive,'' he said.

``What we are seeing is the vast majority of sides are bringing a line speed and a firing defence. In light of the law change with the tackler not able to contest from the wrong side, if you don't win the gain line, and teams are good enough to keep the ball, particularly the New Zealand sides, they will just keep the ball.

``The Stormers kept the ball for 15 phases to score against the Crusaders so defence has to be brutal.''

A lot of work was done on defence and sometimes that meant real live training.

``Every now and then you have to have a little spark to remind yourself what you are really in for. We use the pads and all the tools you have.

``But there are times in the week where we really go in for it, really full on. That is often the best way to remind yourself of your job.''

Tackling though is an art - the days of the clothes line are long gone.

``We have seen any contact above the shoulder - at best a penalty and there has been some worse sanctions that that. We want to stay on the right side of that and so far we have.

``We are working really hard on technique. But it is a fine line to make sure the technique is intact with the physicality. Get the two things right and you can be affective.

``There is a lot of fine lines in rugby. But the reality is it is as close as a Roman combat sport you are going to get in the modern age.

`` What we want to make sure is the things that make the game great - and physicality is one of those - is done in a safe and responsible manner.''

Delaney confirmed bad tackles are penalised at training and players are hauled off the field.

``We've had a couple of yellow cards, guys out today. You train for the situations.

``You put them in the position that they understand the consequence. So if you look at the consequence potentially against someone like the Stormers you lose big metres and you are on the end of drive.''

He said players were punished by having to do some extra training for a few minutes before getting back to training.

``You give them a bit of physical work - remind themselves good technique means you won't get a punishment ... I would much rather pay a consequence at training than Friday night at the stadium.''

Delaney confirmed midfielder Richard Buckman, who is carrying a neck injury which is still being assessed, is out for Friday night's match.


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