RFU sorry for ‘anger and concern’ created by handling of tackle height decision

128439271 rugbyunion


Joe Marler of Harlequins is tackled by Josh Bayliss (R) and D'Arcy Rae
Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler (middle) was among those to express concern with the RFU’s decision to reduce the tackle height in English community rugby

The Rugby Football Union has apologised for its handling of their decision to implement new laws on tackle height in the English community game.

It was announced by the RFU last week that players will only be able to tackle from the waist down from July.

But the decision has been met with criticism from a number of clubs, players and coaches.

The RFU have released a statement saying sorry for the “anger and concern” it had created.

Implementation of the new rules would affect clubs in divisions below the Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s.

English rugby’s governing body said when they announced the changes that it would improve player safety, particularly around the issue of head injury and concussion, which has been a point of concern at all levels of rugby.

Those critical of the proposed changes deemed it would be unworkable and expressed fear over a mass player departure from the sport.

In a statement released on Friday, in response to the backlash, the RFU added: “In our desire to act quickly to reduce head impacts and concussions in the community game, which represents 99% of the rugby playing population in England, we have upset many of you who are the champions, volunteers, and ambassadors of our game.

“We fully acknowledge we got the engagement wrong, and we are truly sorry.”

The RFU says it will now begin a process of consultation with players, coaches and match officials in order to work out the best way to limit the risk of head injuries in the sport.

“In making our decision we were aware that France have lowered the tackle height, New Zealand will be doing so and World Rugby supports this approach,” the RFU added.

“We, like the French, used the term “waist and below”; this has caused misunderstanding and confusion.

“We would now like the game to help us define how we describe a lower tackle height to reflect what the research is telling us in a way that is understood by all.

“Consequently, the risk of head injuries should be reduced if tackling below that optimum height. We will now begin a series of forums and workshops with players, coaches, match officials and volunteers, to explain and develop the details of the domestic law variation.”

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