wsj.com recently published an article called What the NFL Can Learn From Rugby. It describes the growing trend of American football coaches learning safer and more effective tackling techniques from rugby.
The article does a great job of pointing out the differences between cheek to cheek rugby tackles and across the bow football tackles. However, two tackles made during the 2015 NFL season’s opening weekend do a better job of showing the differences:
In the first half of the clip Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly tackles across the bow with disastrous consequences. Kuechly left the game shortly before half time with a concussion. In the second half Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt safely sacks the Chiefs quarterback without his helmet.
Watt and Kuechly are both former NFL Defensive Players of the Year and Pro Bowlers playing football at the highest level. And both tackles effectively brought down the ball carrier. But the players’ reactions in the three seconds following each tackle were dramatically different: helmetless Watt leaped to his feet unharmed while Kuechly crumpled to the ground surrounded by trainers.
Although watching the Kuechly clip is a chilling experience for any football coach, player, or parent, it should be required viewing. Please share with your football family and insist that your coaches teach safe tackling techniques.