Rugby Tackle

Yes, a good defense really does win matches in rugby.

Here at VS. Sports we’ve been given the opportunity to watch a number of phenomenal rugby matches. In studying and analysing match videos we have discovered that a good defense (among other tactics) really does win matches.

Rugby Match Report Analysis

Which key performance indicators are used to help rugby teams in their technical and tactical decisions?

A team‘s performance on the field is a result of multiple aspects that are trained and prepared in order for the team to perform at their best during competitions. An area which is high in demand throughout the sporting world is match and video analysis. This analysis is done in order to monitor the team and the individuals’ performance in a match situation. Certain measurable key performance indicators are used when analysing rugby union matches to help the team in technical and tactical decisions.

  • A tackle made can be defined as a player making contact with the ball carrier and successfully bringing him to the ground.
  • A missed tackle is when a player made contact with the ball carrier but failed to bring him to the ground.
  • A tackle break is when a ball carrier successfully broke free from the attempted tackle.Rugby Match Report Analysis

Comparing tackling in the top 4 rugby union leagues.

When comparing tackling in the top 4 rugby union leagues around the world it is found that:

  • Tackles Made was higher in the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12 compared to Super Rugby and Top 14.
  • Additionally, they had significantly fewer tackles missed than Super Rugby and Top 14.
  • Tackle Breaks and tackles missed were significantly higher in Super Rugby than the other three competitions. While these variables were also significantly larger in the Top 14 compared to the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12.

It has been shown that within the Super Rugby competition, that if a team had a higher success rate in their tackling performance, they are more likely to be the winner at the end of the match. The fact that Super Rugby miss a greater amount of tackles missed and tackle-breaks may indicate greater physical demands and players running into contact with more physicality than those in other leagues. However, these missed tackles may also indicate poor performance in defence by the teams. The Six Nations has also been shown that when winning matches, the winning team will have a higher amount of tackle success.

Rugby Match Report Analysis

Aim to have a greater percentage of tackle success for victory.

The game of rugby union has been seen to increase on number of tackles and ball carries compared to kicks and scrums, therefore the aim to have a greater percentage of tackle success may be a critical element to analyse for a team’s victory. Tackles and rucks are the most occurring events within a rugby union match, this high demand tackles and rucks will, therefore, be associated with team success in matches.

How to avoid manually analysing your own match footage.

As mentioned, our team here at VS. can assist you with the laborious process of manually searching through your match footage. We have developed a unique solution that swiftly analyses your match footage and which gives you a detailed report on your teams’ games, as well as that of your opponents. You will have the power to assess how good your teams’ defense is and how you may be able to potentially improve it.


About the Author
Gregory Gordon.
Gregory Gordon is currently a Senior Video Analyst at VS Sports, who is highly involved in the analytics process by performing the analysis as well as managing the video analysts in the company. Gregory is in charge of training the video analysts in all the sports which are offered at VS Sports as well as ensuring that the quality of the analysis is being maintained consistently. He is passionate about sport conditioning and assisting athletes in optimising their sporting abilities. Gregory has obtained his Master’s degree in Sports Science (MPhil) through the University of Johannesburg as well as acquiring a Higher Certificate in Exercise Science through the HFPA. He previously has worked at Orlando Pirates FC for an internship where many different skills were learned and developed through the process.
Schoeman, R. and Schall, R., 2019. Comparison of match-related performance indicators between major professional rugby competitions. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 14(3), pp.344-354.
Hendricks, S., van Niekerk, T., Sin, D., Lambert, M., den Hollander, S., Brown, J., Maree, W., Treu, P., Till, K. and Jones, B., 2017. Technical determinants of tackle and ruck performance in International rugby union. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(5), pp.522-528.