New tackle laws have World Rugby courting disaster

Paul Irving Roar Rookie

By Paul Irving, Paul Irving is a Roar Rookie


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    World Rugby are set to test new tackle laws in the coming English second tier Champions Cup tournament. My fear is that rugby’s equivalent of diving to get penalties could be coming.

    The new law will see tackles have to be made below the armpit line.

    For normal play this seems reasonable, but players have learnt to run at the defensive line with their body height lowered and head down, sometimes to protect their head, sometimes to milk a high-shot penalty. Then there is the pick-and-go manoeuvre around the fringes, often close to the tryline.

    So how can a legal tackle be made when the only part of the body presented to the tackler is the head and shoulders?

    Perhaps the laws should stipulate that if the ball carrier’s head is below his normal shoulder height when standing, a high tackle cannot be called. In fact, if a ball carrier leads with their head, making contact with the tackling player, and some a normal, safe tackle is prevented, then the sanction should perhaps be on the ball carrier for creating a dangerous play (if only to themselves).

    What are World Rugby doing on this tactic of leading with the head to prevent tackle or milk sanctions?

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • July 31st 2018 @ 3:09am
      pete smith said | July 31st 2018 @ 3:09am | ! Report

      It seems to me as an ex player and graded referee that the law of dangerous conduct shoud be the go-to law when tackles are made – especially if aggressively so – and the word INTENT has been forgotten and too often ignored.
      As the distinguished Danie Craven remarked many times – replace the tackled player with a goalpost and then see what the tackler does!!!! – simple really .

      • August 1st 2018 @ 8:11am
        David said | August 1st 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        “Simple really”

        I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. 😆

        • August 3rd 2018 @ 9:23pm
          james said | August 3rd 2018 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

          I laughed out loud at that comment. My cats are looking at me like I am mad.

          I too have no idea what he is talking about.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 7:05am
      Rhys Bosley said | July 31st 2018 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      Agreed. I’m all for sensible changes to improve player safety, but when the degree of risk aversion is such that unworkable laws like this are introduced, the quality of the spectacle will inevitably suffer. Participants know that rugby is a dangerous game but still choose to play it and with the risks known, the authorities should be able to insure against legal expenses. It’s heading down a path where we may as well give up on it and play touch footy to compete for the Bledisloe.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 8:08pm
      englishbob said | July 31st 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

      Ive no firm figures for this but anecdotally I suspect far more tacklers are injured than tackled, getting their head on the wrong side or catching a knee or hip from the tackled player. So I’m not sure about this, one of the things I increasingly like about league is the reticence to card players, this super rugby and June season has seen some ridiculous cards given that have wildly changed the course of the games, no more so than aerial challenges, which is far too grey an area. Itd be nice to return to a time where if a player caught a bad or clumsy one, it was a penatly and we move on, if its malacious: punch, kick, shoulder straight to the head/neck, dump tackle then cards are considered

      • August 1st 2018 @ 9:37am
        AndyS said | August 1st 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Indeed. Concussion numbers aren’t going to change while the tackled player is free to shoulder charge and intentionally make the contact as heavy as possible. As stupid as it might get, if WR was serious they would be banning changing lines after the tackler is committed, applying the same height restrictions to the fend as the tackle, and punishing use of shoulders and elbows. Anything less is window dressing, as nothing is going to change while the tackled player can behave in ways that would get the tackler a ten minute to three week rest.

      • August 1st 2018 @ 11:04am
        Working Class Rugger said | August 1st 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        This trial has been devised thanks to research that actually shows that in terms of head injury it is the tackler and not the tackled player who is at the higher risk. I really don’t understand all the conjecture here. It’s a trial. If it works (which I suspect it will) then great. Player safety and welfare both while active and in the years after playing the sport should be of primary importance. If it doesn’t then back to the drawing board. But regardless it needs to be given an opportunity to determine its worthiness.

        For Rugby to survive and thrive this is something we need to take very, very seriously. None of this ‘back in my day’ BS. Because today isn’t your day. American Football is still grappling with this. Many in its admin throughout the differing stages are hoping that it will eventually go away but the declining numbers in participants particularly at the youth levels are beginning to tell. I for one support WR efforts in this endeavour.

        • August 2nd 2018 @ 12:28am
          In Brief said | August 2nd 2018 @ 12:28am | ! Report

          Training players in how to tackle correctly, particularly in Australia where even internationals place their head on the wrong side, would also help.

          • August 3rd 2018 @ 10:36am
            Peter Kelly said | August 3rd 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

            Crotty has made an art form of getting knocked out by hip or knee, only times I remember Conrad Smith getting concussed was for the same.
            Maybe we should ban tackling below the belly button.
            Tackle will only be allowed between nipple and belly button.

    • August 1st 2018 @ 10:44am
      John P said | August 1st 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      ” Then there is the pick-and-go manoeuvre around the fringes, often close to the tryline.

      So how can a legal tackle be made when the only part of the body presented to the tackler is the head and shoulders? ”

      ^ That right there is why it wont work.

      • August 1st 2018 @ 11:32am
        Working Class Rugger said | August 1st 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        I’d imagine they’d approach it as they currently do.

      • August 1st 2018 @ 5:08pm
        Tingo Tango said | August 1st 2018 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

        I agree John.

        When I read the proposed changes last week I watched an NRL game with the view about how they would implement such a change.

        What stuck out was when a player was going to score in the corner he put his head down when approaching the line. There was no way the opposing player who was in front of him could have tackled him anywhere than above the shoulders.

        There is good intent here and we all want players to play without injury but I am not sure if this is possible without taking away from the sport whether it is Union or League

    • Roar Guru

      August 1st 2018 @ 2:22pm
      Timbo (L) said | August 1st 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

      It is a great discussion topic, one I have attempted a few times but has always been met with polarized responses, Ranging from personal insults about how much of a snowflake I am, to, how Rugby should be banned on the grounds of safety.

      I hope the games administrators can navigate the minefield of public opinion and player welfare and come up with a solution that doesn’t leave a large number of players with either a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) at the end of their careers. Lawsuits will likely end the game if it isn’t addressed.

      I think the steps taken to date are positive but have had a negative impact on the game in general.
      In short, the spirit of the rules are good, but they need some refinement.

      I am with you, I believe that the ball carrier has a personal responsibility to avoid putting themselves in a dangerous position, to gain advantage. Using your head as a battering ram is a good example.
      Penalize the Ball carrier? Or Play on?
      In the spirit of player safety, the Ball carrier must be penalized as a deterrent. I am thinking a short arm penalty is probably enough. It isn’t an easy fix to legislate nor referee, I never said it would be easy.

      I sit typing my thoughts, with a sore back and a large bruise on my collar bone after 2 separate incidents from my Over 35’s game on Sunday.

      It reinforces my view that stationary players are most at risk, whether it be a driving tackle as you receive a pass or a forward running into a ruck to effect a clean out with an impact. A significant number of injuries are suffered here.

      My second injury was from a ball runner leading with their elbow at neck height. which raises the topic of “Intent to Harm”, another safety related matter.

      A third windmill I tilt at is the Folau style “Flying Through” catch, where the player on the ground is collided with and then penalized for standing their ground waiting to catch the ball. This can be resolved with a simple requirement for a vertical leap into any aerial contest..

      I end my comments, melting into the pavement as the snowflake that I am, asking the question:
      With teenage youth leaving the sport in droves, skyrocketing insurance premiums due to injury rates and a trail of broken bodies, can the game survive without some practical, safety related law changes?

      Is our Bloodlust as spectators worth the welfare of the players?

    • Roar Pro

      August 1st 2018 @ 3:18pm
      Melburnian said | August 1st 2018 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

      Timbo, my 2c worth …

      “My second injury was from a ball runner leading with their elbow at neck height.” What if any was the referee’s interpretation of this? Leading with the elbow is consider foul play so should have resulted in a card.

      the player on the ground is collided with and then penalized for standing their ground If the player is stationary and standing their ground then they shouldn’t be penalized. The common issue we see if the player being out jumped and taking the man in the air, but both players are in motion.

      There is an argument to be made that lifting in all forms should be outlawed again. No lifting or supporting at the line-out or from the restart. That should help to eliminate the aerial clashes we see with pulling people down. Lifting was allowed because supporting was allowed, but some teams, exploited this at the line-out. The trick to catching them out was to judge how slowly they returned to ground … if the jumper was being supported, then it looks unnatural i.e. too slow.

      • Roar Guru

        August 2nd 2018 @ 5:39pm
        Timbo (L) said | August 2nd 2018 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

        “Aww, Deal with it Bru”

        Raises another one of my rant topics, “everything is legal if you don’t get caught”

        Common sense? Every other sport would call this a charging foul, in fact, the Rugby laws do too, it just isn’t enforced. If you are there there first, you get to stand your ground. Lifting is fine.
        It should be the “Charger”‘s responsibility to do it safely, the simple answer – Vertical leap only. It is safe and maintains the contest. Folau personally caused 3 concussions this season, his yellow card was inevitable as far as I’m concerned.

        • Roar Pro

          August 2nd 2018 @ 11:28pm
          Melburnian said | August 2nd 2018 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

          You’ve lost me here … I dont see what point you are trying to make.