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Tackle Behaviour Webinar Outlines Insights For Domestic Game

Tackle Height Law Trial

As part of our continued support of the implementation of the new tackle law trial, the domestic rugby department and medical department of Irish Rugby hosted a webinar for key stakeholders across the game in Ireland.

During the course of the webinar there was information on the Match Official Decision Making process, the competition and sanction methods, and concussion reporting protocols.

This webinar was aimed at players, referees and coaches of the Men’s and Women’s AIL, using insights from the first stages of their respective seasons. These learnings were also aimed at all areas of domestic rugby and the webinar was open to for all to attend.

A recording of the webinar is available here for all clubs and schools and it has also been added to our tackle behaviour area on our website. 

Colm Finnegan, National Rugby Development Manager, “The trial has been very well received and players, coaches and match officials are all working together for the betterment of player welfare. It’s important we continue efforts to ensure we have a change of behaviour to make sure our game is safe for everyone involved.

What is the Purpose of the Trial?

The purpose of this trial is to incentivise greater use of the belly tackle and ultimately reduce incidents of head-on-head impact in the tackle.

Risk of head injury/impact is at its highest when tackles are made to the head and shoulder area, with the latest World Rugby and laboratory studies showing that head injury risk is lowest when tackles are made to the belly area.

There is an increasing body of evidence showing that improved tackle behaviours around tackle height can reduce occurrences of head injuries, including concussion, in the tackle. Over 70% of all concussions occur in the tackle, with the tackler at higher risk. Lower tackles are safer than higher tackles. The greatest risk of head injury is when the tackler and ball carrier heads occupy the same space, so efforts must be made to separate the heads.

How is this Trial being Quantified?

 Irish Rugby, through IRIS Project(Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance) and World Rugby, are analysing injury data, match footage and stakeholder feedback across all levels of Irish Rugby to accurately represent the impact of the trial on injuries, behaviour change and game metrics.

Competitions/Sanctions – key points to be aware of:

  • If in the judgement of the Referee a high tackle (above the line of sternum) warrants a yellow card, regardless of level of danger (including repeated infringement), it is a foul play Yellow Card. 2 yellow cards for foul play would be an automatic one match suspension in most cases.
  • The Match Official Decision Making framework shows how decisions are made, it is critical that Coaches, Players and supporters are aware of this to allow all stakeholders understand decisions.
  • It is important to note that mitigation does not apply if a tackle is always illegal.
  • Nearly half of all tackles involve more than one tackler and so for the purpose of clarity, the legal tackle height of below the sternum would apply to all players involved in the tackle.