6 of the biggest tackles in Six Nations history

Words: Will Gilgrass
Images: Getty Images/Staff

Wince at the biggest, crunchingest ‘hits’ in Six Nations history and vote for your favourite

Rugby looks like it hurts. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a total newbie, the sight of a crunching tackle – or “hit” – will make you wince.

We’ve picked ourselves up and cobbled together the six greatest hits since the beginning of the 6 Nations in 2000. Stick your gumshield in and prepare for impact…

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Jonny Wilkinson on Emile Ntamack, 2000

France 9-15 England, 2000

Jonny Wilkinson is an out-and-out legend. England’s record points scorer will most famously be remembered for his World Cup-winning drop-goal in 2003, but this hit on French back Emile Ntamack showed off the less-heralded part of his game. The man could tackle. 


Gavin Henson on Matthew Tait

Wales 11-9 England, 2005

This hit was much more than a tackle; it was a statement of intent. On the opening weekend of the 2005 Six Nations, a tanned, swashbuckling Gavin Henson picked up 18-year-old England debutant Matthew Tait with one arm and marched him back five metres. Henson’s thumping tackle kick-started his nation’s campaign. Wales went on to win the match and all of their remaining fixtures, completing an emphatic Grand Slam. 

Jason White on Kevin Maggs

Scotland 13-40 Ireland, 2005

Have you ever been watching rugby and heard someone scream ‘sit down’? If you don’t know what they meant by it, this hit by Scotland’s Jason White should make it clear. We only wish we could say the same for Kevin Maggs’ vision.

George North on Owen Farrell

England 12-19 Wales, 2012

When Isaac Newton felt an apple land on his head, he realised that gravity existed. In 1686, he published his laws of motion in Principia Mathematica. It’s just a shame that he didn’t live another 325 years, as he would have witnessed the perfect demonstration of a body’s change of state after having a force impressed upon it. Take it away, George North – Sir Isaac salutes you.

Courtney Lawes on Jules Plisson

England 55-35 France, 2015

‘[The] tackle’s fair, timing was good’, can be heard on referee Nigel Owens’ mic as Jules Plisson’s body moves in about 17 different directions after being levelled by England second row forward Courtney Lawes. We doubt that Mère Plisson, or any other French fan in Twickenham that evening, agreed with the referee.

Francesco Minto on George North

Wales 67-14 Italy, 2016

If you’re going to dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it. And so it was that Wales’s George North learnt his lesson. In 2016, Italian blindside flanker Francesco Minto came in as the last defender and, well, blindsided him. Big George may not have seen him coming, but he did still manage to get the ball away. Fair play.

Rugby has changed a lot since the players became professionals. As you can see from this famous 1976 tackle by Wales’ JPR Williams on France’s Jean-Francois Goudon, where he charges a player off the pitch without using his arms (something that would be illegal under modern rules)…

…and if you think that’s bad, take a look at this clip from England versus Wales in 1987. These days, such ‘off the ball incidents’ wouldn’t get past the TV referee or the citing officer. (Or the local police force, for that matter.)

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