The tackle

Only the ball carrier can be tackled by an opposing player. A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground, i.e. has one or both knees on the ground, is sitting on the ground or is on top of another player who is on the ground. To maintain the continuity of the game, the ball carrier must release the ball immediately after the tackle, the tackler must release the ball carrier and both players must roll away from the ball. This allows other players to come in and contest for the ball, thereby starting a new phase of play.

Aims for the MO

  • Ensure a fair contest and the availability of the ball.

Referee’s focus

  • Tackler, tackled players, arriving players


  • Voice: Encourage law compliance.
  • Signal: Show your presence.
  • Whistle: Blow early if the ball can’t be played.

Laws (top three priorities)

  • Definition: Player brought to ground / ball touches ground.
  • Tackled player - ball must be released immediately.
  • Arriving players stay on their feet and join correctly.