Watching rugby is the second best way to understand it, with the first being playing in a game. Watching Vines and Instagram videos are good ways to see snippets if you don’t have the time to sit down and watch an 80 minute game.
The vine shown is an example of a high tackle. Take note on how the tackler is grabbing onto the shoulders and the tacklee’s head and neck are going down, which could lead to neck and spinal injuries.
The video bellow is a good example of the back line having fast hands to gain as many yards as possible before getting tackled. The back line getting steep after a ruck helped them get the ball out quicker.
In this next video, one of the players is able to get by the defense by punting the ball and running up to catch it. He then is able to make a breakaway and score a try.
The three main things to remember when playing on defense is to get big hits in tackles, a strong ruck, and to “build the wall”.
Be aggressive when you tackle. When the other team sees a strong tackler, their hesitation can lead to your team getting the ball.
When a ruck goes down, getting low and having a strong body position will help in gaining possession of the ball.
In a defense ruck, there are two people, one on either side of the ruck, called the guards. These two players aren’t always the same people. They are the ones who are closest to where the ruck formed that weren’t part of the ruck themselves. In order to let their teammates know that the positions are filled, they raise their outside the ruck side hand and yell “guard! guard! guard!”. Their job is to stay right on the outsides of a ruck and watch for the ball to be out. Once the ball is out, they yell “ball’s out!” and run forward to tackle the ball carrier. Their unofficial position is similar to that of the flankers in a scrum.
If it looks like the other team is winning possession of the ball, the team will get into a flat line behind the last foot of the farthest back person in a ruck. Stay spread out across the field and avoid having big gaps in the line.
Having good leg muscles and a strong core will improve your rucks, scrums, and tackles.
I’m not sure if other teams use this term exactly, but one of the exercises my team does to strengthen the core is the constipated puppy.
It is a good way to practice getting low for tackles and avoiding being too high, which can lead to a penalty. It also reinforces strong body positions in rucks and scrums, thereby making them safer and less likely to collapse or bridge.
A constipated puppy, as shown doing by the woman in the photo above, is where your legs and knees are at 90 degree angles, your hands are about shoulder width apart, and your back is flat. If another person were to go up and shove you and you have a strong body position, you will not move. Imagine that you are sucking your belly button into your back and puff your chest out to help remember to keep your head up.
Doing a plank (propped up on elbows, forearms and toes with a flat back and straight legs) or a superman (balancing on your stomach with arms and legs extended in front and behind you) can also help improve core strength.
Doing these during commercials while watching TV is a great way to exercise without altering your schedule.