We all enjoy a crunching tackle as much as beautifully-crafted try, but humble tap tackles so often go unrecognised as moments of superb athleticism, wonderful vision and the greatest weapon in the armoury of last-ditch defence.
Let’s look at just ten of the best tap tackles seen on a professional rugby field:
10) Joe Worsley on Vincent Clerc, 2007
Often overshadowed by Red Rose legends Neil Back, Richard Hill and Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley came into his own during the 2007 World Cup and this moment of genius helped turn the tide of the semi-final in England’s favour. The side that had previously lost 36-0 to South Africa in the pool stages would go on to face them again in the final.
9) Agustin Pichot on Chris Latham, 2000
One of Argentina’s greatest ever players, Pichot is now World Rugby’s vice chairman. However, in his day he was a master at tap tackles and this is best illustrated by his fantastic effort on Australia’s Chris Latham. If not for Pichot, this would have been a certain score.
8) Peter Stringer on Dan Luger, 2001
Still going strong at the ripe old age of 38, Ireland’s Stringer is an absolute wonder at the tap tackle, with this beauty against England speedster Dan Luger showing how powerful it can be for a defence that appears to be capitulating.
7) Jarryd Hayne in his Sevens debut
The London Sevens was a mixed bag for Jarryd Hayne, but he certainly made a positive impression with this wonderful tap tackle on France’s advancing prop.
6) Cornell du Preez spoils an amazing run for Jonny May, 2015
We all know what Jonny May can do if he’s given even an inch of space to work in, and it looked like he was going to go all the way to score one of the best individual tries domestic rugby has seen. However, Edinburgh’s du Preez had other ideas and spoiled Gloucester’s party. A fantastic effort.
5) Rassie Erasmus stops steamtrain Jonah Lomu in his tracks, 2000
Scoring tries against New Zealand is something always to be treasured, but stopping one of rugby’s greatest players in his tracks should be held in the same regard. Rassie Erasmus puts in a beauty here.
4) Abrie Pretorius gets an impressive tap tackle in against New Zealand’s Eric Rush, 1996
All Blacks winger Eric Rush really had no idea Griqua’s Abrie Pretorius was about to put in a wonderful tap tackle that resulted in him clumsily dropping the ball. Good effort, sir.
3) Beauden Barrett on Willie Le Roux, 2014
Wow, just wow. The existence of television match officials are fully justified here after Barrett puts in an absolute stunner on South Africa’s Willie Le Roux.
2) Peter Stringer again! This time on Billy Whizz, 2004
England’s Billy Whizz was renowned for his unparalleled acceleration, but it meant naught to Stringer, who stopped Robinson right in his stride.
1) Japan’s Shaun Webb prevents an almost certain try for Canada, 2011
For a while it seemed there were a few things certain in life: death, taxes and DTH van der Merwe scoring this try, but Shaun Webb put in an absolutely cracking tap tackle to stop the Canadian scoring. Watch it again and again, it’s superb.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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