World Rugby To Trial A New ‘Lower Tackle Height’ Directive

Get low.

World Rugby has announced a programme of dedicated law trials at the World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy competitions aimed at reducing the risk of head injury by changing player behaviour in the tackle.

The trials are designed to change player behaviour by getting the tackler to attempt lower tackles and therefore lower the risk of injury.

As a result, the acceptable height of the tackle will be lowered through revised on-field and off-field sanctions, encouraging players to bend at the waist when attempting a tackle.

World Rugby will trial two approaches. At the U20 Championship in France, a High Tackle Warning will be issued if the tackler is upright (i.e. not bent at the waist when tackling), and there is clear and obvious head contact for either player. This will be policed by both the match officials and the citing commissioner. When two high tackle warnings have been issued, a player will automatically receive a one-match suspension.

At the U20 Trophy, an amendment to Law 9.13 will operate, altering the definition of a high tackle from above the line of the shoulders to above the nipple line.

The trials will operate as follows:

WORLD RUGBY U20 TROPHY
Law 9.13 The acceptable height of the tackle is reduced from the line of shoulders to below the nipple line.

The law will now read: A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the nipple line even if the tackle starts below the nipple line.

WORLD RUGBY U20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Tackles that increase the risk of head injury will be cited.

The match citing commissioner will issue a “High Tackle Warning” to THE TACKLER WHO IS DEEMED TO BE UPRIGHT (NOT BENT AT THE WAIST)

A tackler will be deemed to be upright when:

  • They are in an approximate upright standing position
  • They have made no clear attempt to lower the height of contact with the ball carrier to avoid the head or shoulders of the ball carrier
  • There is no knee flexion and minimal bending at the waist which brings the head into a dangerous position for collision with ball carrier’s head or shoulder

The high tackle warning will be issued in one of four types of incidents:

  • All HIGH-CONTACT PENALTIES, irrespective of sanction, during matches
  • All TACKLES THAT RESULT IN AN HIA, irrespective of whether to tackler or ball-carrier
  • High tackles that are missed during the match
  • Accidental clear and obvious head to head and head to shoulder contact

Sanctions:

  • The High Tackle Warning is issued ONLY IF THE TACKLER IS UPRIGHT, AND THERE IS CLEAR AND OBVIOUS HEAD CONTACT for either player
  • Each High Tackle Warning carries ‘one strike’.When ‘two strikes’ (two High Tackle Warnings) have been issued, a player will receive a one-match suspension (a right to appeal will operate)
  • High Tackle Warnings also form part of the usual accumulation of sanctions, including Citing Commissioner Warnings (CCWs) and yellow cards. A strong education element will be run in parallel, explaining that this player welfare initiative protects the tackler and their opponents