In addition to the law changes that are to be trialled next year (see ‘New Rules Please’ below) the World Rugby council apparently discussed a potentially massive game changing rule.
Martin Rafferty, the chief medical officer of World Rugby is quoted as saying –
“We looked at about 15 variables in the tackle, what causes the injuries, and one interesting one we found was that if people are bent at the waist, the ball carrier, you get fewer head injuries.
So we asked the experts: ‘How can we get players to bend at the waist in the game?’ And they’ve come up with some recommendations”
One expert quoted in the piece (Sydney Morning Herald) is the senior scientist of New Zealand ruby, Ken Quarrie, who interestingly wants to see a trial of below-waist tackling “at junior levels”, making the point that tackling below the chest is already in place at under-12 level in New Zealand.
The implications of such a change at senior rugby are significant.
Consider these –
The choke tackle becomes illegal
League players would find changing codes to Union far more difficult
Off- loading becomes easier – and almost impossible to prevent
How do you stop a pick and go close to the line when the players drive forward virtually parallel to the ground?
Dipping into tackles would regularly bring a penalty for the attacking side
Double tackles (high and low) would be outlawed – and, in any case, redundant.
15s would become more like 7s
Obviously anything that helps reduce the risk of concussion is to be welcomed – but this seems to be extreme to me.
I would favour a directive to referees that a penalty and yellow card is applied to any tackle that is anywhere near above the chest.
Still, what did I know? I tried never to tackle anyone – on or off the field – and certainly not any of those bastards with a number less than 8 on the back of their shirt!