Rugby considers radical new tackle laws

Force wing Dane Haylett-Petty is tested for concussion by doctor Mark de Cruz at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Dave Lintott Photosport
Force wing Dane Haylett-Petty is tested for concussion by doctor Mark de Cruz at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Dave Lintott Photosport

Rugby may undergo its most radical transformation yet with the governing body considering a ban on tackling above the waist.

Video analysis of 600 head injuries by World Rugby's medical unit has led to the game considering trials at youth level to reduce the number of concussions being suffered.

Chief medical officer Dr Martin Rafferty said: "We've found that if the ball carrier is bent at the waist then he has reduced injuries. If the tackler's bent at the waist, he has reduced injuries."

The discoveries include that 72 per cent of head injuries occur in the tackle, and 76 per cent of those are suffered by the tackler.

New Zealand Rugby scientist Ken Quarrie, who also works for World Rugby's advisory group, is quoted in The Telegraph saying: " "I'd certainly like to see a trial at the junior levels for a start.

"Already, it's below the chest at - I think - eight, nine, 10, 11 year olds in New Zealand.

"I don't think it would be a major change to bring it down to the waist."

Quarrie is part of a study into 470,000 rugby injury insurance claims in New Zealand over the past decade, from five to 40-year-olds. It is revealing different injury patterns related to age.

It would take an enormous amount of strong data to see a radical tackling change in the professional game, but that cannot be ruled out in years to come. World Rugby is meeting next week to consider more measures to reduce concussions.

Brodie Retallick is the All Blacks' most recent concussion case, after a clash with Aussie opposite Dean Mumm. Photo / Photosport Chris Symes
Brodie Retallick is the All Blacks' most recent concussion case, after a clash with Aussie opposite Dean Mumm. Photo / Photosport Chris Symes

Former Super Rugby flanker Josh Blackie, who was part of the world conference discussion panel, said: "Change sometimes only comes when players stand up and demand it...the awareness and concern of players has increased in the last five years or so and the management of concussion changes have been welcomed."

- NZ Herald

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