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Rugby Australia to trial lower tackle height in community game

By AAP
Teddy Wilson of the Waratahs runs the ball during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Western Force at Allianz Stadium, on April 15, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have announced a lower tackle height trial as they look to minimise the risk of concussions and encourage more players to take up the sport.

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The two-year trial, starting in February, will see the legal tackle height in community rugby lowered from below the shoulders to below the sternum, aiming to improve player safety by reducing the risk of head-on-head or head-on-shoulder contact.

The new rule, which will affect all forms of rugby below Super Rugby Pacific, follows six years of research including similar trials in nations such as France, England, New Zealand and South Africa.

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Preliminary data in South Africa has shown a 30 per cent reduction in concussions, while France recorded a 64 per cent reduction in head-on-head contact – as well as a 14 per cent increase in participation on pre-COVID levels.

RA boss Phil Waugh said the trial was an opportunity to make the game safer, which was a major concern for potential players.

“We firmly believe that promoting safer tackle techniques, and reducing the risk of head contact and concussion will lead to an even safer game,” Waugh said in a statement on Friday.

“Research from around the world has clearly identified safety as the number one issue preventing fans and potential players from taking up the game.”

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He said that the French trial showed a “significant increase” in penalties in the first year followed by a “substantial drop” in subsequent years.

The trial will be implemented in all premier grades, school and pathway competitions.

The sport’s governing body has begun an extensive educational program with administrators, coaches, match officials and players around the new law.

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Eabn 8 hours ago
Open-minded Schmidt takes hands-on approach to Australia challenge

Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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