- New tackling mandate confirmed by Rugby Australia
- Will apply to all competitions below Super Rugby level
- Aim is to reduce number of concussions and head contact
Rugby Australia has announced a change which will lower the legal tackle height from below the shoulders to under the sternum in a bid to make the struggling footy code a safer sport.
RA CEO Phil Waugh said the mandate – to be introduced from February next year at all levels below Super Rugby – was ‘in the best interests of the game.’
‘Research from around the world has clearly identified safety as the No.1 issue preventing fans and potential players from taking up the game,’ Waugh told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Obviously, it is impossible to remove all risk from the game. However, we firmly believe that promoting safer tackle techniques, and reducing the risk of head contact and concussion will lead to an even safer game.
‘I am confident our players and coaches at all levels of the game will continue to work on safe and effective tackle techniques.
In a bid to make rugby union a safer sport, Rugby Australia has announced a two-year trial to lower the legal tackle height from below the shoulders to under the sternum
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh (pictured right) said the mandate – to be introduced from February next year at all levels below Super Rugby – was ‘in the best interests of the game’
The move will see Rugby Australia join other major unions globally who have introduced lower tackling laws, including France, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa
‘This is firmly in the best interests of the game. However, there may be an adjustment period for players and match officials, and I would ask for patience and respect between all parties as we embark on this journey.’
The move will see Rugby Australia join other major unions globally who have introduced lower tackling laws, including France, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa.
One of the main aims of the trial will be to reduce the level of on-field concussions.
World Rugby, the English Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union are currently embroiled in a legal claim by more than 200 players – including 66 amateur athletes – who are alleging they suffered brain injuries when playing the sport.
Ex-Wallaby Stephen Hoiles, now the coach of Randwick in Sydney’s Shute Shield competition, believes rugby players will need some leniency when it comes to the tackling adjustment next season.
‘I understand the trial and coaches obviously support efforts to reduce concussion,’ he said. ‘It will be all about effective technique coaching….no one is looking to go high.’
When the trial was initially flagged in March this year, criticism was fierce in some quarters.
One bemused fan felt the lower tackle heights would spell ‘the end of Rugby in Australia’ with another labelling the proposal a ‘disgrace’.
A third stated: ‘Don’t do it. Rugby won’t stay relevant at a community level, and players will flock to other footy codes.’