The tackle event in rugby union places players at the highest risk of injury compared to any other facet of play. National programmes such as the RugbySmart (New Zealand) and BokSmart (South Africa) equip players, coaches and support staff with information to reduce the risk of injury by promoting safe technique. For the tackle, technical instructions are usually given as a set of points for pre, during and postcontact. The study aimed to determine: (1) which pre, during and postcontact points are emphasised during training to promote safe technique? (2) where do players receive their information on tackle technique? (3) at what playing level do players learn the most on tackle technique? and (4) do factors associated with technique and safety carry over into matches? A questionnaire was designed to assess attitude and behaviour on a five-point Likert scale. The study was conducted at the 2009 Cape Schools week rugby tournament. Questionnaires were handed out to 220 players at the tournament and 75% (n=164) completed questionnaires were returned for analysis. Player demographics: age 17±1 years; height 179±9 cm; body mass 84.5±13.0 kg; playing experience=8±3 years. As a tackler, players felt coaches place the most emphasis on body position and aiming for the waist before contact. During contact, leg drive and staying on feet was emphasised the most. After contact, following through and staying on your feet was emphasised the most by coaches. Televised rugby matches and programmes had more influence on players' tackling technique than rugby training videos or books. Most of their knowledge on tackle technique was obtained at under 19 level. During matches, bringing the opposition player down at all cost was more important than proper technique, staying on your feet and safety. Coaches seem to be emphasising good techniques during tackle training. However, the importance of these techniques is not carried over into matches.
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