There is a difference between pointing out differences in order to prevent tragedy … and exacerbating differences due to some malice.
I was horrified to see a youtube put out by the Rugby Union, about girls tackling in rugby, and it was teaching them exactly the same techniques as men, which is both dangerous and irresponsible, as you’ll see live further down.
Without any further ado, let’s settle on a demographic to compare within – so, not primary aged children, nor elite athletes at the top level with their bulking up and conditioning but a more or less sporting oriented young man and woman who might be playing a game of rugby “at community level”, the type you might see in the gym.
Remember, this elite AFL player [ex] is referring to “at community level”, not at elite level:
And so to the demographic:
Before we get onto the technique of tackling itself, some thoughts about men and women.
A man is more or less straight line from head to feet, he’s more awkward with bending and he shifts the whole body around as a rule, unless he’s a dancer, in which case he has partial independent movement of the various limbs. An example of whole body turning was Muhammed Ali.
A woman has a body with, frankly, independent parts – each leg and buttock moves independently of the torso and each other, then the neck, head and shoulders move independently of the torso – hence the way women dance. There’s a lot of unsupported soft tissue in there. In other words, their body movement is in all directions, not straight up and down – they can certainly squat and stand again but it takes control of the various body parts, keeping them in line.
Now to vulnerabilities in attack [not for the rugby field]. The first are the obvious ones – the eyes for both sexes, also the fingertips and knees, plus the goolies for men.
However, in the context of tackling in rugby, the vulnerabilities increase but first – how one tackles.
It’s all split second, as the opponent with the ball is trying various feints and turns to escape you and so you must decide when and where to hit hard – there is no place in rugby for half-tackles, as that is where injuries stem from – in fact a hard tackle is better for the tackled as well as for the tackler.
Now to how a man tackles. Looking at his body, his strength, such as it is, runs all the way through his body from neck to feet, with a slight bias towards the upper torso and arms. Look at that collage again and see the gorilla stance of most of those men. When he tackles, if he has the chance, he will launch himself at the opponent with his whole body in a line behind the tackling shoulder he’s decided on.
The first type is front on, the opponent coming at you. You decide the moment and then drive your shoulder hard into his gut, keeping your head to the far side so he can’t hand you off. It must be low, fast, hard so that he doubles up.
The second type is side on or from behind and the rule is “cheek to cheek”, that is – your facial cheek should be against his buttock cheek when your shoulder hits just below that and your arms grip, slide down and then grip like a vice above the knees.
Both types requires the man’s constant straight line deportment – he’s a single direction creature. The blow is absorbed from neck all the way down to the feet.
The woman, unless she’s an elephant or Amazon [and you’ll see one or two of those in the clip below], is being taught to tackle like a man and that is criminal! For thse reasons:
Look at the women in the collage again, especially the middle two. Her weakest points are these – firstly, her slender neck, then her narrower and weaker shoulders, her thin arms and weak joints, each breast is a centre for huge damage – one massive blow to those and she is in real trouble, then below that, her stomach and womb, plus the soft tissue towards the groin.
She starts to strengthen now in the middle – across those broad, bony hips which are her major fender-offer of trouble and then those powerful thighs. Were she to fight a man without poking his eyes or kneeing him in the goolies, the way is to wrap those thighs around and squeeze. But she doesn’t get to do those things on the rugby field.
So she is relying on those shoulders and arms while her real assets amidships stay unused. Now there are two solutions to this:
1. Teach her a better way of tackling, a more female way or
2. Don’t let females play full-on, tackling rugby.
There is a game for women called Touch Rugby and it is irresponsible for the Rugby Union to promote any rugby but that for women. For all the reasons above, plus the massive difference between your average gal in her mind and body, in her movements [see centre right pic in the collage again, the way she’s on tippy toes] – between her and the Amazons, the neanderthals, the woman mountains. The difference is far more pronounced than for men and you’ll see this below.
In other words, girls are more vulnerable to be being hurt badly and though this is a compilation of tackles and injuries, it still happens with alarming frequency and not just in rugby – this below is Women’s AFL downunder [suggest you turn down the sound to watch].
And just a word about these young women – they are AFL, that is they are elite level, playing a big money supported game, they have done pre-season conditioning, they work out on weights in the gym, they are not your average Saturday afternoon match gal.
And yet see how they react:
If you detect a certain amount of steam issuing from the nostrils here, you’d be right. What these girls need to be protected from is not just the PCists who want them doing this for ideological reasons [anything men can do …] but the gals themselves from themselves. But dare to suggest it and you know the reaction already.
And finally, the question Wolfie brought up about mixed rugby, albeit at primary level. Some of those kids are fairly developed by the end of primary and the body motion doesn’t alter for the boy – he’s always straight down the line, whatever the age, whereas the girl starts to get into that independent body parts in motion by degrees.
I’d say this is a far more critical issue in secondary when the boys start to bulk up.
Now, if someone like me had to point these things out to the Rugby Union or to the AFL or to the NFL, then something is clearly wrong in the common sense department in those people’s heads. Or else they are deliberately doing wrong, not unlike insisting on grooming gangs coming to our country en masse.