SA Rugby to discuss lowering tackle height for schools, clubs: ‘Essential to the sport’s future’

SA Rugby to discuss lowering tackle height for schools, clubs: 'Essential to the sport's future'
SA Rugby to discuss lowering tackle height for schools, clubs: 'Essential to the sport's future'

Africa-Press – South-Africa. SA Rugby says it will discuss the possible implementation of experimental law changes to lower the height of a legal tackle in amateur rugby.

This comes after World Rugby recommended reducing the permitted tackle height to below the sternum (middle of the chest area) in the community game.

This recommendation will be discussed by the global governing body’s council in May, and if approved, national unions (like SA Rugby) would be given the choice of agreeing to a global trial.

In response, SA Rugby said it would discuss the matter with its member unions and the South African Schools Rugby Association (Sasra).

SA Rugby said if they agreed to the trial, it would only be implemented in schools and club rugby.

“Changes that increase enjoyment and participation while improving safety have to be welcomed and we will now workshop these proposals with those most intimately connected with the delivery of the amateur game, our member unions and the schools,” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.

“Our sport is moving in the right direction with such initiatives but, when, where and how we would be ready to implement them in SA needs to be thoroughly considered. If they are implemented here, we must do it with clarity and full buy-in.”

Alexander said the matter would be discussed at the next meeting of the Amateur Rugby Committee of the South African Rugby Union.

World Rugby said the proposal followed extensive analysis and consultation with unions. It reflected the global governing body’s “core mission of a global sport for all, seeking to enhance the experience for players in order to keep building engagement across the globe”.

It said that trials conducted since 2019 in the community game in France, South Africa, Georgia and Fiji had delivered positive advances in player safety, by reducing the number of head impacts and concussions, and the overall game experience by supporting increased ball in play flow.

“The community game is the lifeblood of our sport, representing 99 percent of our participants, and the proposed tackle height adjustment has already delivered positive game shape and playing experience outcomes,” World Rugby chairperson, Bill Beaumont, said.

“This is essential to the sport’s future. The evidence we have, from France in particular, shows that not only does reducing the tackle height make the game safer but it increases numbers playing as well. That has to be the aim for everyone involved in our game.”

World Rugby added that rigorous independent research had shown that the tackle was responsible for 74 percent of all concussions and that reducing the height of the tackle protected both players.

“The ball carrier is protected directly because head contact leading to injury can be significantly reduced, while the tackler is protected because their head will be in what is known to be a safer proximity with the ball carrier’s torso/upper body,” World Rugby said in a statement.

“Tackles where the tackler’s head is in proximity to the ball carrier’s body above the sternum are more than four times more likely to result in a head injury, and so bringing tackle height down will benefit both players.”

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