Why The Tackle Law Has Changed In Rugby
Ironic the new tackle law has used Owen Farrell in their example being tackled as he was one of the biggest culprits of the no arms shoulder tackle that was deemed legal due to his arms wrapping around after the contact. Players and referees are to blame for the laws changing as the game is unsafe.
Last month the International Rugby Board changed the tackle law for professional rugby and the lower leagues will come into affect from July this year. The new law states you have to tackle from the waist down which is where you should be tackling if you were taught at a young age.
The problem is there have been too many serious head injuries with the majority being head on head collisions. One can't argue with the law change as the thought process is to remove the clash of heads by lowering the contact area. This is not an exact science as I still expect concussions to happen and possibly rise due to this law change.
Last year there were a reported 1200 concussions globally with 1/3rd resulting in brain damage. I don't believe these stats as there are far more that go unreported in the amateur levels. I would go far as to say every player who plays rugby will receive at least one serious head knock each season. having played the game at a high level I know and you cannot be kidding yourselves that this is not going on.
Rewind back to the 1990's and if you received a bang to the head and were concussed it was fine to continue unless you started vomiting on the field. Those same players are now coaches so the thought that a bang to the head can remove you from the field is still a new thought. Many of these e players are part of the IRB who are changing the laws and to be fair they are farting in the wind as how do you make a sport like rugby any safer than what we have today?
Last year just in the French amateur leagues we had 3 fatalities and there have been countless others around the world including school boy rugby. The way the game has progressed in the last 25 years is more worrying than anything else. The payers are bigger and faster mainly due to steroids so the collisions today are far worse than what we knew back then. If a 120Kg player runs into another 120Kg player at full speed there is an impact and someone is going to come off second best. The idea if you are committed enough you won't be injured is a fallacy as what happens if you are both committed?
Over 60 000 have already signed a petition arguing that the new tackle laws are not any safer than what the laws were and I agree with them 100%. lowering the tackle height from the chest to the waist brings in other concussion areas. The hip bone, knees and legs are just as dangerous as the head hitting you.
How is this going to be refereed is my concern as many will see this differently and why ex players have to be involved. I just wish common sense would be used instead of changing the laws as this can be controlled by the on field referee and his assistants. The amateur game doesn't have that luxury however and why there is a concern.
The sport has bough this on themselves by not policing what has been happening in most matches. There is the grey area of when a player has used his arms to tackle another player when we all know he lead with his shoulder first and the arm coming around is secondary. This is nothing new and why ex players have to be in control with the whistle.
Asa referee your job is to the safety of the players first and foremost over and above everything else going on. I see games where I cringe as I fear for players in certain situations yet the whistle is not blown. For instance a collapsed scrum where the front row is head first on the ground yet the other team is still pushing has to be the most dangerous part of the sport. Maybe I am too over protective as for myself that is sheer stupidity and the players know what they are doing. This is not a macho thing as players lives are in your hands and the officiating has been way too lenient over the last 10-15 years.
Not enough time is spent on learning the art of the tackle during training sessions due to fear of injury and using a tackle bag is not the answer. I know the top teams do not practice live one on one tackling each week so there are no improvements taking place.
I cannot fault the IRB doing what they had to do as the sport is seriously dangerous the way it was being played. The referees, the players and the coaches are all to blame for where the sport has ended up. There needs to be a complete change in mind set from school boy rugby and up as being the biggest player means absolutely nothing because you have cheated. Back in 1994 I saw this happening within my own team and the players around me increased their body mass by around 25% in a few months. This is not normal behavior yet it has become part of the norm today.
The concussions will continue to rise in rugby and sadly there will be more deaths each year due to a combination of issues that need to be addressed. My solution would be to invest in officiating making sure the referees are fully equipped and up to the job of protecting the players first. Taking ex players out of the leagues and offering them a future in the sport besides coaching is the only answer. With the right financial package on offer many players would gladly become involved and the game would be safer within a year or two if not sooner.
Nothing is important than human life, If making change in the Law saves Human's life or head injury, It should be done as soon as possible. Gladly it has changed.
Yes, but I am afraid it won't help that much.
Wow no tackling above the weist leaves little room for error like you suggested. Prevention is better than cure as they say but I can't see how you can prevent it from a sport that is fundamentally a contact sport
While these changes might help to get more safety I feel like that the people that are already playing this sport for a while now will have a hard time to adjust. It's like telling somone to change their behavior after doing it for 10+ years. While I am not watching this sport actively, I think this might result in a lot of controversy in the next few seasons.