The RFU acknowledges that consultation and engagement with the community game over the lowering of the tackle height is critical as is the need for absolute clarity in the language used.
By using the term “waist and below” they understand that it has caused some confusion and misrepresents the intention to describe a lower, safer tackling zone rather than a line.
Over the coming weeks, as they present and discuss the rationale for change, the staff will consult with people from right across our sport including players, coaches, match officials, club officials, teachers, and disciplinary officers. We are also conscious of the impact on
participation and enjoyment and wish to ensure that is not damaged.
The RFU want to listen to concerns, share their thinking on law variations, agree on the language used and gather views on the period over which changes are made.
The specific areas they will be consulting with the game on are:
• Helping to define how we describe a lower tackle height to reflect what the research is telling us, in a way that is understood by all, to reduce the incidence of head on head impacts whilst retaining the physical confrontation of the tackle.
• The responsibilities and actions of both the tackler and the ball carrier
• The practice known as “Pick & Go”
• How the law will or won’t affect goal line defence
• Clarification on where these changes will and won’t apply. For example, the maul is a separate event in the game and there is no evidence to suggest this is an area of high concussion risk and therefore there is no recommendation to change the maul.
Council Members will be working with their constituent bodies to identify how best to engage a wide range of those players, coaches, match and club officials to be involved in a two way dialogue.
An engagement plan will be discussed at the RFU Council meeting in mid February, and we anticipate consultation commencing very soon thereafter.
Player welfare has always been a priority for rugby, the sport we all love. Research and analysis show lowering the tackle height reduces head on head impacts and the risk of concussion. France has lowered the tackle height; New Zealand is doing so, and World Rugby is considering global law changes too. As the national governing body for rugby union in England it is our duty to act on scientific evidence however, we fully recognise the need for the
game to be engaged in creating these changes.
Ted or Joe will be attending the forthcoming district meetings to discuss the way forward and Joe has been asked to sit on a RFU working group to provide some expertise from a playing and coaching perspective and to have oversight of the suggested law changes. Any further information from the game will be shared whenever possible.