Velocity and acceleration before contact in the tackle during rugby union matches

J Sports Sci. 2012;30(12):1215-24. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.707328. Epub 2012 Aug 1.


The velocity and acceleration at which the ball-carrier or tackler enters the tackle may contribute to winning the contest and prevailing injury free. Velocity and acceleration have been quantified in controlled settings, whereas in match-play it has been subjectively described. The purpose of this study was to determine the velocity and acceleration of the ball-carrier and tackler before contact during match-play in three competitions (Super 14, Varsity Cup, and Under-19 Currie Cup). Using a two-dimensional scaled version of the field, the velocity and acceleration of the ball-carrier and tackler were measured at every 0.1 s to contact for 0.5 s. For front-on tackles, a significant difference (P < 0.05) between the ball-carrier (4.6 ± 1 m · s⁻¹) and tackler (7.1 ± 3.5 m · s⁻¹) was found at the 0.5 s time to contact interval in the Varsity Cup. For side-on tackles, differences between the two opposing players were found at 0.5 s (ball-carrier: 4.6 ± 1.7 m · s⁻¹; tackler: 3.1 ± 1.2 m · s⁻¹) and 0.4 s (ball-carrier: 6.3 ± 2.3 m · s⁻¹; tackler: 3.7 ± 1.6 m · s⁻¹) at Under-19 level. After 0.4 s, no significant differences (P > 0.05) were evident. Also, the ball-carrier's velocity over the 0.5 s was relatively stable compared with that of the tackler. Results suggest that tacklers adjust their velocity to reach a suitable relative velocity before making contact with the ball-carrier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Football* / injuries
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Task Performance and Analysis*