Rugby is seen by many across the world as a tougher form of American football as it is played essentially like the Americanized sport, only without helmets and pads. It seems a few teams are looking into the sport to help reduce penalties in the future.
Targeting has become a real issue in college football with players being ejected for tackling above the shoulders. To combat that, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have reportedly spent upwards of nearly $200,000 on rugby tackling lessons for their players over the next two years.
The team was especially affected by the targeting penalty last year when starting safety Nathan Gerry was ejected from consecutive games due to targeting calls. He said the new style, which is designed to be waist and hip tackles, has really helped him and the rest of the team.
“It takes a while for us to get the basics down to where it comes to muscle memory,” Gerry said. “The science behind it, the explosion of power and using your hips more … I like it. It’s supposed to be just as violent but safer than what we’ve been learning.”
However, the Huskers aren’t alone in their quest to become better tacklers as Ohio State, Rutgers and Washington are all clients of Atavus, a Seattle-based company started to promote the growth of rugby in the United States.
Rugby great Waisale Serevi started the company in 2010 and it started a football division to partner with youth, high school and college football programs to help teach proper tackling techniques. Seattle Seahawks coaches Pete Carroll and Rocky Seto worked with Serevi to develop the “Hawk Tackle” in 2014, which they have been using very well over the last two seasons.
This is certainly a big step in college football to hopefully eliminate penalties, scary injuries and most of the long-term effects from the sport of football.