Two new tackle laws will be trialled at the upcoming World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy in a bid to combat the risk of head injuries.
The laws lower the acceptable height of a tackle and additional punishments for transgressors will be implemented.
In a statement on Friday, World Rugby said the programme of dedicated law trials at the junior tournaments is aimed at reducing the risk of head injuries 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,’ read the statement.
The first of the two trials will be at the U20 Championship in France, where a player who does not bend at the waist or stays upright when making a tackle, will be issued with a ‘high tackle warning’ by the referee. This will be policed by both the match officials and the citing commissioner. When two high tackle warnings have been issued to the same player, he will automatically receive a one-match suspension.
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
- 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
In addition, a moderated law will take effect at the World Rugby U20 Trophy, which lowers the tackle from the shoulder line to the nipple line.
It will be an amended version of Law 9.13, which states ‘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.’
All participating teams at the competitions had previously been advised of the changes.
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