Where's Tana Umaga's number? I need to ring him and ask about tiddlywinks.
The former All Blacks captain's protest to a referee ("It's not tiddlywinks, mate"), after being penalised for a tackle on Dan Carter during a Super Rugby semifinal in 2003, has been etched firmly into rugby folklore — and now World Rugby is trying out new, even more restrictive tackling rules.
It's fair to say Umaga's tackle would probably have drawn a yellow card these days and no one can possibly dispute the need for player welfare.
In 2017, when the existing tackling laws were introduced in a bid to reduce concussion, former Lions and Wales prop (and boss of the Wasps rugby club) Dai Young made all the usual noises about player welfare, followed by: "But we have to decide whether we are playing touch rugby or contact."
The latest round of tackle laws to be trialled before the 2023 World Cup, along with a raft of other proposals, have two main causes for concern.
First, tackles will be limited to waist height or below. World Rugby says: "Forcing players to tackle lower may reduce the risk of head injuries to both the tackler and tackled player".
It may. On the other hand, Donald Trump may turn out to be a transgender civil libertarian with a Mexican father and who wins the Nobel Prize for Literature with his delicately romantic anthology of poems titled Don't Grab Women By The P****.
World Rugby's study of 1500 matches played during 2013-15 showed 76 per cent of head injuries occur in the tackle — the statistic being heavily quoted now.
What is not being said is 72 per cent of those apply to the tackler, not the ball carrier.
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Maybe I'm missing something but forcing the tackle downstairs brings hips, knees and boots more into play. Head versus hips and/or knees or boots usually leads to trouble.
No one in rugby officialdom can tell me what happens when, as we so often see, a bulky prop forward is bent double, trying to bash over the opposing goal-line to score.
The only way to prevent that is to meet him head-on. If he's bent double, that often literally means head on (head). Uh-oh.
A below-waist law would have an obvious effect on the game. These days, defences are fast, bruising and performed by highly fit monsters with only a fleeting acquaintance with the offside law (one easy way rugby could be made safer — enforce it; hard). Talk of better technique ignores the fact that, at elite level (immense, fast, elusive athletes), it is all too easy to get it wrong in the nanoseconds available.
Tackles at ball-carrying height are usually a lawful effort to dislodge the ball and claim it, a method of disputing possession. Take that away and impose waist-high and you are handing a big advantage to attackers, with arms free to offload or pass. We are probably looking, should this law ever be instigated, at blow-out scores such as 67-59 — at least for a time.
Maybe that's the way the game should go — today's version, heavily influenced by defence, is often not a particularly alluring spectacle. (All Blacks v Argentina 2019 and All Blacks v South Africa 2019 ... need I say more?)
But there is a second proposal which makes you shrug and say: "Why not join the NRL?" That's the idea that, when an attacker is held up over the line, we should ape league and restart with a goal-line drop-out instead of a 5m attacking scrum.
World Rugby's rationale: "To reward good defence and promote a faster rate of play."
In other words, get rid of scrums and the inevitable, boring and time-consuming resets.
Don't fix the scrums, mind. Reduce them in number, particularly the pushover scrum, watering down one of the vital components that makes rugby, rugby.
It all smells strongly of a body being seen to be responsive, all the while insuring itself against individual and blanket lawsuits, as when some NFL players decided they had not been protected enough.
Somehow, I don't think huge numbers will watch a Bledisloe Cup touch rugby test where bodies aren't put on the line, where Coldplay choruses are tenderly sung at halftime, and the after-match function is conducted with drinks of elderflower tea, a reading from Kahlil Gibran and a few friendly games of Tana's tiddlywinks.