Sport Rugby

Sunday 19 January 2020

RFU to trial new law that will lower the legal height of a rugby tackle to the armpit line

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The legal height of a tackle will be lowered in a Rugby Football Union-led trial next season.

The trial will take place in the 43-match Championship Cup competition, which is contested by clubs in English rugby's second tier.

It represents a major player safety initiative.

Details announced by the RFU see the definition of a high tackle lowered from above the line of the shoulders to above the armpit line.

The move has been made in collaboration with World Rugby and will see an amendment to law 9.13 operating in the cup competition.

In a statement, the RFU said: "The trial aims to assess the impact of introducing a lower tackle height in elite adult rugby on the incidence of concussion and other injuries, player behaviour in the tackle, the nature of tackles, head injury events and other game events.

"This important player welfare initiative will include all 43 games in the pool stages and play-off rounds of the competition.

"A detailed analysis of this trial will be compared to existing data from the English professional game to help inform any wider approach.

"All data will be shared with World Rugby to be added to research collected from a similar trial in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy competition."

The RFU's latest professional rugby injury surveillance report showed that 47 per cent of all match injuries are associated with the tackle.

Additionally, concussion accounted for 19 per cent of all injuries to the ball-carrier and 43 per cent of all injuries to the tackler.

RFU professional rugby director Nigel Melville said: "We believe lowering the height of the tackle will benefit both the ball-carrier and the tackler.

"The Championship Cup provides an opportunity for us to assess the impact of lowering the height of the tackle on the elite adult game and will be a critical part of helping us develop game-wide approaches to concussion and injury reduction."

And Championship chairman Geoff Irvine added: "Obviously, player welfare is at the top of everyone's agenda and any action that is a potential benefit to the players is welcomed by the clubs."

An initial meeting will take place early next month for rugby directors, coaches and senior player representatives from all Championship clubs, as well as referees and assistant referees to ensure sufficient preparation time ahead of the competition, which begins on November 10.

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