The Left Wing: New tackle laws are a good idea but the timing is all wrong - Luke Fitzgerald
The new tackle laws were introduced last weekend and controversy abounded almost immediately. Luke Fitzgerald is in favour of the rules but believes that bringing them in mid-season has caused huge headaches.
In November, World Rugby issued a fresh directive that called for referees to apply the laws regarding high and dangerous tackles more firmly.
Though tackles above the line of the shoulders have always been treated in this way, two new categories have been introduced - 'reckless' and 'accidental'. The initiative has caused much controversy, with some accusing the sport's governing body of rendering the game unplayable or reducing it to touch rugby.
A reckless tackle is one where a player is judged to have made reckless contact during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game if in making contact, the player knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway.
This sanction applies even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. This type of contact also applies to grabbing and rolling/twisting around the head/neck area even if the contact starts below the line of the shoulders.
The minimum sanction is a yellow card and the maximum one a red card. An accidental tackle is one that occurs when making contact with another player during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game, if a player makes accidental contact with an opponent’s head, either directly or where the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.
If that happens the player may be sanctioned. This includes situations where the ball carrier slips into the tackle. The minimum sanction is a penalty.
The laws caused consternation last weekend, especially in the Ulster-Scarlets game and Fitzgerald, speaking in this week's episode of The Left Wing, believes that the rule change should not have been introduced mid-season and he offered some advice to players in order to avoid breaching the new laws. Watch below: