Rugby Australia has vowed to “work with” World Rugby and trial a new law in the community game that will drop the legal tackle height from shoulder to sternum.
WR is aggressively and unashamedly prioritising player safety in a bid to future proof the sport and make it attractive and accessible for children and concerned parents.
Strong action from the governing body would also help its defence against legal action from players who have suffered brain and other injuries.
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But the proposed and actual changes have upset many players and fans who argue that such moves tear apart the fabric of the game.
England’s Rugby Football Union was forced to issue a humiliating apology in January for causing “anger and concern” with its planned changes to lower legal tackling heights.
The RFU had said that tackling above the waist would be banned in community rugby matches from July in a bid to reduce concussion risk and improve player safety.
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The sternum solution appears to be WR’s compromise and Rugby Australia is on board.
“As part of the trial, Rugby Australia will undertake broad community consultation to gather feedback from players, coaches, match officials, teachers, parents, administrators and medical professionals to ensure their perspective is considered in any future decisions on tackle height in the community game,” RA chief executive Andy Marinos said.
“Additionally, Rugby Australia and member unions will continue to emphasise the importance of correct tackle technique and understanding of the laws of the game through its relevant education and training programs.”
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RA said it was involved in multiple research projects delving into the issue, including a study using 360 degree cameras and artificial intelligence programming to determine whether there is any correlation between tackle height and reported concussions.
“We will continue to ensure that any decisions impacting the game are informed by research and evidence that prioritise player safety and welfare,” Marinos said.
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