While points win games and sumptuous attacking play fills column inches there is nothing like a big hit to set the crowd crackling. A well-executed tackle sets the tone of games and can even change the momentum in cagey, attritional affairs. The hit is not a dump or spear tackle but a split second collision that stops the attacking player dead in his tracks, here we have chosen just nine of our favourite tackles that have induced shock and awe….
Josh Lewsey v Mat Rogers
There had been niggle between Mat Rogers and Josh Lewsey all game: shirt-pulling, name-calling and even a swinging fist from Rogers. It wasn’t until the 80th minute that Lewsey legitimately got his retribution, levelling the Australia international with this man-and-ball bone-cruncher. It was even said that, Rogers, a keen surfer, even had had to stop riding the wave as his rib was knocked out of place and it was too painful to lie on a board.
Rogers magnanimously said of the bosh: “That one was like getting run over. I think that hit will take the crown as the biggest ever. I just remember lying there writhing in pain, unable to breathe… It left me with broken ribs… I guess Josh taught me a hard lesson.”
George North and Richard Hibbard v Adam Ashley Cooper and Ben Mowen
Look at the record books and you’ll note it was a game where Wales collapse to an 18th consecutive defeat against the big three but will be remembered for number of things, most notably a couple of breathtaking tackles dealt by first George North and then blond bombshell Richard Hibbard in the same passage of play. Unfortunately, Israel Folau barged over the whitewash in the next phase but the intensity displayed by North and Hibbard will always be a testament to the Gatland regime.
Brian Lima v Derick Hougaard
The packs of South Africa, England and Samoa collided in the pool stages of the 2003 World Cup in some ferocious exchanges up front but it was in the backs that the hardest of hits was carried out. In this clip, ‘the chiropractor’ Brian Lima, a veteran of five World Cups, launches himself at an unsuspecting 20-year-old, Derick Hougaard to land the tackle of the tournament. Hougaard would not be buying Joost van der Westhuizen a pint after that hospital pass.
Jason White v Kevin Maggs
The teak-tough Scotland flanker made some granite-hard hits during his tenure as captain of his country including this bone-jarring stop. Ireland centre Kevin Maggs decides to take a scissor-pass and run back into heavy traffic, only to be met by the sizable shoulders of Jason White. Despite the underwhelming Scottish performance, losing the fixture 13-40 at Murrayfield, White’s impact will live long in the memory.
Motu Matu’u v Matt Hodgson
Although his name may be unfamiliar with most fans in the northern hemisphere Motu Matu’u the 17st Hurricans backrow is actually the owner of one of the most vicious tackling compilations on YouTube. The New Zealander has gained a cult following south of the equator for his impact off the bench with bludgeoning carries and game-changing collisions. This hit on Western Force captain Matt Hodgson is the most brutal, knocking the ball out of the Australian’s hands on impact.
Courtney Lawes v Jules Plisson
French fly-half Jules Plisson learnt a lesson in physics in the harshest possible way as the 18st frame of Courtney Lawes almost scythed him in two. The tackle itself sparked had over a millions hits on You Tube and sparked endless debate on the timing of collisions but fortunately for Plisson was fit to carry on. In a game that provided 90 points, it is a credit to Lawes’ aggression that we will always remember this monumental hit. As for Plisson, he was notably absent from Philippe Saint-Andre’s World Cup training squad.
Phil Vickery v Olivier Magne
Another fixture between les Bleus and England and another crunching collision. The video is worth it for Brian Moore’s chortle alone as the commentator can’t contain himself when big Phil Vickery knocks Olivier Magne clean off his feet. The 89-cap French flanker carries the ball from deep inside his own half but the foray is ended swiftly by Vickery, as the 19st prop performs a textbook smash. Raging Bull at his finest.
Samu Manoa v Peter O’Mahony
America’s most explosive rugby export, Samu Manoa, has always enjoyed the physical skirmishes up front and none more than this full-bloodied collision with fellow enforcer Peter O’Mahony. Although O’Mahony is normally the one dishing out this sort of brutality on the opposition, few can resist the physicality of Manoa. The 6ft 6in, 18st American-Samoan will e sorely missed by the Franklin’s Gardens faithful as he heads for Toulon.
Henry Tuilagi v Ben Foden
This tackle by Perpignan’s Henry Tuilagi demonstrates why his country Samoa are so synonymous with the term ‘big hit’. Although this tackle is arguably late, it is nevertheless an enormous hit by one of the gargantuan Tuilagi brothers. After catching a high ball Northampton’s Ben Foden passes to Chris Ashton but is greeted with the Samoan decimating him at full tilt – a sight for sore eyes.