The shoulder charge by Farrell against a South Africa opponent during the summer was not sanctioned, causing a massive controversy at the time, and now it appears that World Rugby are officially deeming it to be a ‘shoulder charge’ – at least according to the new video guide.
The law application guideline is designed to assist everyone in the game with the on-field sanction decision-making process for high tackle and shoulder charges.
The ‘decision-making framework for high tackles’ was developed in partnership with union and competition delegates attending the player welfare symposium in France in March and includes player, coach, match official and medic input.
With research demonstrating that 76 per cent of concussions occur in the tackle, with 72% of those to the tackler, and that head injury risk is 4.2 times greater when tacklers are upright, the framework is aimed at changing player behaviour in this priority area, via the promotion of safer technique and builds on the January 2017 edict on tougher sanctioning of high tackles.
The process focuses on the source of direct contact to the head, the degree of force and, for the first time, any mitigating or aggravating factors that may be applied by the match officials. It will be a useful tool for coaches, players, match officials, media and fans. It provides a fresh emphasis for future decision-making and does not retrospectively judge previous decisions.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “As a sport, we continue to put injury-prevention at the heart of all our decisions. The decision-making framework for high tackles reflects that commitment. It is not a law change, but a provides a step-by-step guide for match officials with the objective of reducing the risk of injury through stronger and more consistent sanctioning of high-risk tackle behaviour.
“We are on an important and bold journey that will take the commitment and support of everyone in the game. I would especially like to thank the competitions and unions for their full collaboration in this important process.”
World Rugby Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added: “This is an important player welfare and educational tool for the global game. The framework will benefit everyone in the game, not just match officials, and will set the standard that is expected from match officials when considering a high tackle or dangerous shoulder charge.”
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