June 04, 2016 - Ever since he changed his ways of teaching tackling techniques in 2014 by following the lead of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and introducing to his Ohio State charges a shoulder-leverage tackling method that is similar to the style used by helmet-less players in rugby, Chris Ash has been willing to tell anyone willing to listen why he believes it's the safest — and best — defensive approach in football.
"Why do I speak about rugby-style tackling? Because I want to promote the game of football,'' the Rutgers football coach said in a recent interview with NJ Advance Media. "The game of football right now is under attack because of all the concussion issues that have been brought up. I want people to know this is still a great game, it's a safe game, we can teach it better to be safer and more effective, and if I can help get that message out there to help the game grow and prosper, then I want to do that. That's my obligation to everybody out there.''
It's why Ash is spending part of the weekend in Philadelphia, speaking at a clinic Friday evening on a rugby-inspired tackling system that, at its core, focuses on keeping the head out of the tackle.
On Sunday, the Rutgers coach is expected to take part in a hands-on clinic, teaching the rugby-tackling method to youth football and rugby players on the practice fields surrounding Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., along with former Eagles standouts Mike Quick and Ike Reese and New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner.
"There's no doubt that Coach Ash is one of the leaders in the movement to guide programs at all levels of the game to a more effective and safer tackling method,'' said Ron Lloyd, president of Atavus, a Seattle-based company specializing on providing a comprehensive, rugby-tackled system for players. "Atavus football is flat-out the premier football-tackling provider. What our goal is is to have every coach be rugby-tackle trained. At the end of the day we believe that everyone, whether it's a head coach, an athletic director, an administrator, a parent or players alike, should be asking the same question — are my coaches rugby-tackle trained. To me that is our goal; that is our vision; that is what coaches like Coach Ash are committed to helping evangelize and create momentum for it across the game of football.''
At first glance, the announcement seemed curious to say the least.
"Rutgers University football coach Chris Ash is serving as a keynote speaker at a Tackle Clinic which is being held in conjunction with the College Rugby Championships in Philadelphia,'' read the press release.
But Ash, who spent this past week in Seattle watching the Seahawks' tackling methods during the team's Organized Team Activities sessions, said his reason for speaking at the rugby-tackling clinic is simple:
"Basically the guys at Atavus asked if I'd be willing to talk about why we rugby tackle, how we benefit from it, why I think other people should take a look at it,'' said Ash, who spent the spring shelving the Scarlet Knights' "bite the ball" approach — a mantra used by former head coach Greg Schiano and his disciples to remind players to get their head across the body of a ball carrier — and installed the rugby-style tackling method.Full Story