Fri 3 Apr 2020 | 01:19

World Rugby's New Tackle Guidelines

World Rugby's New Tackle Guidelines
Fri 3 Apr 2020 | 01:19
World Rugby's New Tackle Guidelines

Tackling are an essential aspect of rugby football. It is also the most dangerous and complex aspect of the game and the most difficult to manage. World Rugby has now issued new guidelines aimed at making tackling clearer for players and referees.


World Rugby appointed a specialist working group to make tackling safer and an aspect of the game that players and match officials can approach with greater confidence in the hope of making rugby a more attractive game on and off the field of play.

The specialist group was chaired by John Jeffrey, the former Scotland flank who had much experience of tackling in his playing days. The group had four coaches and two referees – coaches Richie Gray, Russell Earnshaw, Ian Foster and Joe Schmidt and referees Jaco Peyper and Wayne Barnes.

There is no change of law but World Rugby’s executive approved of the group’s findings and issued the following guideline:

The Law 14 and 15 application guideline will be operational for all competitions commencing after 1 July, 2020 and reinforces the application of current law for what is a complex and dynamic facet of the game.

With a focus on player welfare and game attractiveness, a specialist breakdown group comprising international coaches, players, medical, laws and research experts, considered current trends and challenges and considered law change before recommending a strict reinforcement of existing law as the most appropriate and successful course of action, specifically:

* Tackler (Law 14)
Law 14.5
– must a) immediately release the ball and the ball-carrier after both players go to ground and b) immediately move away from the tackled player and from the ball or get up.


* Ball-Carrier (Law 14)
Law 14.2
– Being brought to ground means that the ball-carrier is lying, sitting or has at least one knee on the ground or on another player who is on the ground.
Law 14.5 – Tacklers must: d) allow the tackled player to release or play the ball.

* First arriving player (Law 15)
Law 15.11
– Once a ruck has formed, no players may handle the ball unless they were able to get their hands on the ball before the ruck formed and stay on their feet.
Law 15.12 – Players must endeavour to remain on their feet throughout the ruck.

*First arriving player – the jackler – will be rewarded, and the concept of the jackler “surviving the clear-out” by opposition players will be removed. The jackler must be in a strong position to try and lift, with hands on the ball.

*Other arriving players (Law 15)
Law 15.5
– Arriving players must be on their feet and join from behind their offside line.
Law 15.6 – A player may join alongside but not in front of the hindmost player.
Law. 15.10 – Possession may be won either by rucking or by pushing the opposing team off the ball


World Rugby has produced a comprehensive visual guide, including video explanations, for the rugby community on its multi-lingual laws website,

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The breakdown is the most dynamic facet of the game and it is increasingly difficult to referee, but just as importantly, it is responsible for nine per cent of match injuries.

“Therefore it was important that we looked to identify ways to reduce the risk of injury, while promoting a fair contest for the ball.

“The group looked at a range of potential solutions, including potential law trials, but they unanimously agreed that the best practical and evidenced approach is to reinforce existing law, rather than law change.

“In particular, there will be focus on the ball-carrier playing or placing the ball immediately, the tackler releasing immediately, rewarding the player who wins the race to the contest, penalising side entry and players who dive, not drive, into rucks.”

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