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English rugby chiefs approve new legal tackle height

NEWS: The legal tackle height in English amateur rugby will be lowered to the base of the sternum from July 1 following a vote by the Rugby Football Union council on Friday.


Initial plans by the RFU, the English game’s governing body, to force through change in January were met with fierce criticism when officials announced new rules would set the tackle height at waist-level.

RFU chiefs apologised at the time. But following the results of an online open survey, presented to the RFU council, officials have now approved the adjustment of the height to “the area of the tummy or belly and below”.

Rugby officials said lowering the tackle height was necessary to reduce the risk of severe head injuries as the sport grapples with the issue of head injuries and concussions.

A group of former players diagnosed with early onset dementia and other irreversible neurological conditions are involved in a legal action, alleging negligence by a number of governing bodies.

As part of the consultation it has been agreed that the pick and go – an integral part of the game that would be unworkable under a reduced height – will still be officiated as it currently is.

The professional game will be encouraged to change its tackle height but from July 1 the amateur level of the XV-a-side code in England will operate with a different rule book.


Similar tackling rules have been in place in French lower-tier rugby since August 2019.

RFU president Nigel Gillingham said Friday: “We along with many other unions across the world are lowering the tackle height to reduce the risk of concussion.

“We know change is challenging, however. It is imperative that we are guided by the science to help make the game safer for our players.”

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