We explain the art of stealing ball at the breakdown

What is a jackler?

The jackler is the first arriving team-mate of the tackler at the tackle, or the first person to get to an isolated ball carrier who is on the ground. In short: they are a defender who gets over the ball when the ball-carrier is down, before a ruck can form.

The jackler must remain on their feet to contest for the ball directly. However, if they were initially involved in the tackle, they must first clearly release the ball carrier before trying to take the ball off of the attacker on the ground. The jackler must support their body weight throughout their attempt to take the ball – they cannot go to ground and then reset themselves.

Related: How to jackal

Remember: Once a ruck has formed, no defending player is permitted to handle the ball unless they were able to get their hands on the ball before the ruck was formed. It is also important to note that players must try to stay on their feet throughout the ruck. By the same token, fallen ball-carriers are meant to release the ball.

As part of the ‘Law Review cycle’ in March 2020, match officials were told:

  • Reward the player who wins the race for possession
  • Remove the concept of the jackler “surviving the clear out” by opposition players – if the jackler arrives, tries to lift the ball or are in a position of apparent strength, they should win the penalty without having to ‘survive’ attacking player trying to wrestle, twist or knock them off the ball
  • The jackler must be in a strong position to try and lift, with hands on the ball

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