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RFU statement: The 'significant feedback' over tackle law change

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

The RFU have issued a statement following the fallout from last week’s controversial decision to reduce the community game tackle to waist-high from 2023/24 onwards. The governing body of the game in England came under heavy fire for the drastic change it rubberstamped for all levels of rugby below Gallagher Premiership/Championship levels.

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Amid fears that multiple players will decide not to play rugby next season due to the law change, the RFU have now admitted it is aware of the significant feedback its decision has generated. However, it reiterated its determination to lower the tackle height, claiming scientific evidence indicates it will reduce concussions.

A huge part of the upset amongst the rugby community regarding the tackle change was the lack of published evidence backing up the RFU. English Rugby HQ have now vowed to soon publish its findings and it will begin an information campaign to ensure coaches, players, referees and parents are fully aware of the reasons for the change and how it will be implemented.

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The statement read: “We [the RFU] understand the rugby community has a range of questions in reaction to the recent announcement that the tackle height is to be lowered across the community game from next season. We recognise the change is challenging and the community game has understandably provided significant feedback on the change.

“However, the large body of scientific evidence strongly indicates that it will reduce the incidence of head injuries in the community game and, given the French experience of it over the last few seasons, suggests it is a more exciting game to play and watch. There will be further discussion with council members during the next few days before further details on the intent and details around the changes are published to the wider game.

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“We consider the decision to reduce the tackle height to be the start of the process, to allow for a period of engagement in the coming weeks with groups of coaches, players and referees, drawn from across the country and from all levels of the game, including the men’s, women’s and age-grade game, over the detail, intent and implications of the law change before finalising it.

“We will publish further information, including videos and FAQs, in the coming days to provide further guidance. This will be followed by a multi-format training offer which will include face-to-face, webinar, e-learning and will be offered in the lead-up to, and throughout, next season to players, referees and coaches.

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“We will also provide targeted communications to the 150,000+ affiliated age-grade players and their parents to share appropriate learning content tailored for each age grade that they can use to further develop their tackle and contact skills.”

The message was shared on Twitter late on Wednesday and has so far had nearly 450,000 views, underlying the interest in the debate ignited since last Thursday’s original RFU announcement that the community game tackle law will change.

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