Concerns about the RFU’s tackle changes ripple through the community game.
The RFU revealed that from July tackles will only be able to be made from the waist down.
This new law aims to increase safety and lower the number of concussions across community rugby, from National One down in the men’s game and starburst free play Championship One in the women’s.
The RFU council voted unanimously to back the proposal which ‘aims to reduce head impact exposure and concussion risk in the tackle for both the ball carrier and the tackler’.
The backlash and reaction received from players past and present, along with the rugby community at large has seen the RFU back pedal releasing a statement that will provide more ‘clarity for the game’.
Most of the naysayers have branded the new law change as unworkable, with the lack of consultation given to the clubs and fans of those affected adding to the issue.
There has been a petition calling for the RFU to reverse it’s decision on the new tackle laws which has amassed more than 45,000 signatures in the days since its’ launch on Thursday.
The RFU has said this decision has come about as the result of six years of studies, and insists the data points to a lowering of the tackle height to reduce the risk of ‘head acceleration events’.
This change will likely lead to a vast number of red and yellow cards in the tackle area as clubs, coaches and players adapt to years of muscle memory in these contact situations. There is a concern surrounding the collision of the head with the hip bone and knees which have been responsible for multiple concussions at the elite level of the game. This point has been echoed by All Black legend Sonny Bill Williams:
The Worst concussion i had in a 20 year career was from a low “textbook” tackle – the reason everyone (like me) is so confused by these rumoured law changes is because the logic isn’t being shared with us. Can anyone share the science behind these decisions? pic.twitter.com/mcmhlRUmkA
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) January 27, 2023
There are calls for the RFU to release the data which led to their decision, but as of yet there is a serious lack of evidence to back up these claims.
The community game is already trying to stay afloat following the player exodus which the concussion debate was the catalyst.
Will this latest rule be the final nail in the coffin for a sport that is struggling to compete with football for a participation foothold in the British sporting psyche.