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Collins Dictionary:  "JACKLING" (noun)


  1.  (Rugby) the winning of the ball, by the defender's team, after a tackle and before a ruck has formed

Word Origin: a blend of jack (al) + (tack) ling

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes - and ships and sealing wax.

And of rugby's jackling."

Okay, apologies to Lewis Carroll for changing the line to his famous poem. This noted writer - aka Charles Dodgson - graduated Rugby School in 1849 to matriculate at Christ Church, Oxford. Did he play rugby? Probably?

In case you haven't been following defensive coaching tips, you might have missed this new rugby term, "jackling."  It's a wonderful word, descriptive, memorable, musical and bound to see more common usage.

What to make of jackling? The description emanates from the the jackal (Genus - Canis) of Africa, an opportunistic predator. Imagine the scene, the lion fights with hyenas gathered around a kill, but neither notices the wily dog darting in to steal a bit of entrails. Theft accomplished.

As rugby defenses altered significantly to accommodate new rules, stealing the ball has gained greater emphasis, especially after a tackle when bodies are intertwined around the ball carrier. Hands reach over, searching for the ball.  A quick grab, and defense has become offense after successful jackling.

In the past, rugby has given one word into the language for everyday usage outside the sport. That word is "scrum." The scrum is a one-of-a-kind sport formation used also to describe a large group of people close together in one place. For example, "The impromptu mob formed a scrum to raid the Wonka factory."

Will jackling - with its combination of jackal and tackling - make it into conversational speech? Who knows? For now, it accurately defines the action of swiping the ball away. But in the future, with expanded practice, we might see, "Tom reached quickly over the bar, making a jackling of a pint."