Rugby Football Union plans on trialling a law that will lower the height of a tackle. This change in rugby laws comes out of the effort to make the sport safer. Statistics about England’s professional rugby show that brain injuries have been on the continuous rise for the past seven seasons. For this reason, the legal height of the tackle will be lowered from the shoulder line to the armpit line.
World Rugby added an amendment to the 2018/19 Championship Cup Law. The new law dictates that “a player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.” Discussing the definition of a dangerous tackle, the law describes it as above the armpit line. “Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the armpit line even if the tackle starts below the armpit line.”
The RFU’s Director of Professional Rugby, Nigel Melville explained that tackles are the cause of about 47 per cent of all injuries in rugby. He believes that the new tackle law will help increase the safety of both ball carriers and tacklers.
However, Scotland’s Richie Vernon and Grayson Hart don’t agree with Melville. Both rugby players believe that the new tackle height is the best solution. As Vernon explained, the new law will mostly affect tacklers going against natural tackling techniques of some players.
London Scottish scrum-half, Hart explained that the new law would put all the responsibility on the tackler. He added that the ball-carrier has to have some responsibility in this too. In Hart’s experience, he saw more injuries happen as a result of a low tackle – not a high tackle. “The best thing we can do is continue to encourage players to be instinctive and intuitive,” said Hart.
Hart and Vernon are not the only players who don’t believe the new tackle law will deliver desired results. Jim Hamilton, who played for betting sites favourites, Saracens, believes that the new tackle law would only lead to more head injuries. However, no one proposed an alternative to the new tackle height. So everything the rugby community can do now is wait for the results of the trial.