The Philadelphia Eagles are rumored to looking to the world of rugby for their new defensive strategy.
NFL reporter Albert Breer posted a video from the team’s OTAs that appear to show defenders using rugby-style tackling, a trend the Seattle Seahawks pioneered.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been at the cutting edge of tackling reform, working on developing techniques that are not only effective but reduce the risk of head and neck injuries. He developed an instructional video for what is called Hawk Tackling, a method that had the input of Australian rugby teams.
“We’re always looking for a better way to teach and so we thought, ‘Let’s put together a video and see how it works.’ I’m thrilled that we’re contributing,” Carroll said last year.
The rugby style of tackling has players come in with their head lowered, which is opposite of how many NFL teams teach players to come in with head high and drive through. Rugby style tackling also involves twisting after the ball carrier is wrapped up.
“We have found that we can practice and drill our tackling without pads or a helmet,” Carroll said. “This system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have truly taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.”
The Philadelphia Eagles are rumored to be on board. Breer’s Instagram post shows the team going through tackling drills with defenders coming in with heads lowered and twisting at the end.
Rugby appears to have a growing influence on the NFL. There have been a number of players making the jump from New Zealand to the league, including Jarryd Hayne and Paul Lasikye.
There are now rumors that the league could be planning its first excursion into the land where rugby is king. Stuff.co.nz reported that the league is planning a series of games in New Zealand, trying to capitalize off the country’s rugby stars who have jumped to the NFL.
“The ground-breaking concept, which has been nearly four years in the making and is likely to be called the Southern Bowl, will involve six NFL franchises – including the Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals.
“Once the final 53-man rosters for the 2015-16 season for those franchises are confirmed in late July, two high-profile coaches will select squads from those players who miss the cut. The coaches will likely announce their squads towards the end of September.”
It’s not clear when the series might take place, but fans who want to see a bit of rugby in the NFL may have to look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles this season.
[Image via Getty Images/Al Bello]