World Rugby has taken another step towards making the game safer, approving a lowered tackle height trial in the United Kingdom.
England’s second-tier Championship Cup competition will trial new laws the coming season, which will see the legal tackle height lowered to below the armpits, rather than the line of the shoulders.
The trial was announced after the latest English rugby injury audit revealed concussion in domestic professional rugby had risen for a seventh consecutive year.
Initially there were plans to trial the stricter laws over the entire Championship season. However, the clubs didn’t approve the move, meaning the Rugby Football Union will have to assess whether or not the laws makes a difference by analysing 43 cup matches.
“We believe lowering the height of the tackle will benefit both the ball carrier and the tackler,” RFU professional rugby director Nigel Melville said.
“The Championship Cup provides an opportunity for us to assess the impact of lowering the height of the tackle on the elite adult game.
“It will be a critical part of helping us develop game-wide approaches to concussion and injury reduction.”
The trial is the latest move to increase the safety of the game as competitions across the world, including Super Rugby, continue to be littered with head knocks, despite World Rugby introducing tougher sanctions for high tackles at the beginning of 2017.
World Rugby has already kicked off a similar trial, which saw the legal tackle height at the recent under-20 World Cup moved from the line of the shoulders to below the nipple line.
“We applaud the RFU and the Championship Cup clubs for embracing this important trial,” World Rugby chairman and former England captain Bill Beaumont said.
“The global game is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury prevention. The outcomes from this trial will provide comprehensive data and feedback to inform our continued commitment to further reducing concussion risk in rugby.”