World Rugby To Further Consider Injury-Prevention Law Trials


World Rugby have announced they will take the first steps towards potential player welfare-based law amendments when its Law Review Group (LRG) meets in London on Thursday and Friday to evaluate law trial proposals for the next Rugby World Cup cycle.

The meeting of law experts, players, coaches, referees and elite competition representatives “furthers World Rugby’s collaborative approach to injury-prevention within the process of law review and builds on the success of the player welfare and laws symposium in Marcoussis in France in March.”

At the Marcoussis meeting, delegates considered the latest global game and injury trends. Headline game analysis data confirmed ball in play time has increased by up to 50 per cent since 1987 (greater increases in northern hemisphere competitions), while the number of tackles has increased by 252 per cent over the same period. Scrums have decreased by 56 per cent.

With the tackle accounting for 50 per cent of all injuries and 76 per cent of all concussions and 72 per cent of concussions in the tackle occurring to the tackler, the group considered evidence-based ways to reduce injuries in the tackles, resulting in a number of recommendations for the LRG to consider within the law amendment process:

  • 50:22 kick proposal: creating space by encouraging players to drop back from the defensive line
  • Reduction in the number of permitted substitutions
  • Off feet at the ruck/players must leave the ball: creating greater contest at the ruck to speed up ball availability
  • Delaying the movement of the ruck defensive line: reduce defensive line speed
  • Lowering the tackle height: building on World Rugby’s three-phase approach
  • Ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin bin for dangerous foul play

The LRG will examine each proposal and make recommendations to the international federation’s Rugby Committee as to which proposals are suitable for trial. Alongside the six Marcoussis proposals, the LRG will also consider detailed proposals from the Fédération Française de Rugby regarding the tackle and a number of proposals in relation to the sevens game and Rugby X competition, which will launch in October this year.

The group will also consider the latest data from the recent World Rugby U20 Championship where a high tackle technique warning system operated, focusing on removing high-risk tackles by encouraging player behaviour change. The 2018 edition resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in concussions year-on-year.

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