Law Changers

Following a three day symposium on player safety, World Rugby has announced plans to review various aspects of the game. What do you think?

Law Changers

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Sir Billy appeals to AoD readers for ideas to combat injury[*]

The proposals were announced in a press release on 22nd March 2019 ( The details are sparse at this stage, so what follows is the text of the relevant section, supplemented by news reports. If you have any additional information, please share it BTL…

One thing is clear: whatever happens, the laws won’t be changed until after RWC Japan.

Tackle height

Continue tackle height trials, including high tackle warning programme, in elite rugby.

A trial of new tackle height laws had been under way for the 2018-9 RFU Championship Cup, with the definition of high tackle being lowered from above the line of the shoulders to above the line of the armpit. However, the trial was suddenly cancelled by the RFU in mid-January, apparently because there was “an unanticipated increase in concussion risk to the tackler when both tackler and carrier were bent at the waist”.

Meanwhile, with official blessing, a trial in French amateur rugby will begin next season, which will ban both tackles above the waist, and tackles by more than one player. This follows an earlier trial in last year’s U20 Trophy in Romania, when tackles were banned above the height of the nipples. The trial, deemed to have been successful, included a High Tackle Warning (HTW) after the match for high risk tackles, with two HTWs in the competition leading to a one-match ban.

How high should be deemed a high tackle?

  • Shoulder height (35%, 14 Votes)
  • Armpit height (25%, 10 Votes)
  • Nipple height (23%, 9 Votes)
  • Leave it to the referee's discretion (10%, 4 Votes)
  • Waist height (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

What’s your view on the French trial?

French trial proposals: I support

  • Introducing a post-match High Tackle Warning (44%, 18 Votes)
  • Neither proposal (41%, 17 Votes)
  • Both proposals (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Banning double tackles (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

As well as reducing the severity of high risk tackles, measures are proposed to reduce the number and force of collisions, both by increasing player fatigue and by creating more space on the field. Tired legs first…


Examine the number of replacements used in elite matches.

At the moment eight substitutes (sorry, ‘finishers’) are allowed. What do you think should change?

How many substitutions should be allowed?

  • 8 (no change) (33%, 13 Votes)
  • 5 (30%, 12 Votes)
  • Fewer than 5 (25%, 10 Votes)
  • 6 (13%, 5 Votes)
  • 7 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

Should substitutions be allowed for anything other than injury?

  • Yes (60%, 26 Votes)
  • No (40%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

Promotion of space and greater contest at the ruck

Examine the promotion of space through committing more defending players to the ruck and the ruck offside laws

Examine ways to promote a greater contest at the ruck

These appear primarily to involve banning the jackal: players arriving at the breakdown would no longer be able to touch the ball, but must drive over it to leave it behind. (Older readers may know this as proper rucking, which was an entirely non-violent practice which never led to injuries[*].)

Should jackalling be made illegal?

  • Yes (bring back proper rucking!) (56%, 23 Votes)
  • No (44%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

Kicking and touch law

Examine the creation of space by examining kick and touch law

Again intended to increase space and reduce tackles by forcing teams to leave more players back out of the defensive line, this proposal has been widely discussed in the press. It would entail an adaptation of a Rugby League law: a team kicking out on the bounce from behind the halfway line will have the throw in at the line out if the ball goes into touch in the 22m area.

Side kicking for touch retains possession

  • Leave it well alone (62%, 24 Votes)
  • Good idea—but from behind the 10m line to 22m (23%, 9 Votes)
  • Good idea—50-22 is right (15%, 6 Votes)
  • Good idea—but some other combination of lines (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 39

Review yellow cards for foul play

Examine the ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin-bin for dangerous foul play.

All yellow cards given for dangerous play would be reviewed during the ten-minute sin-bin, with a view to upgrading them to red if necessary. I can’t find any suggestion as to who will do the reviewing, but presumably it will be the Citing Commissioner — one reason why this is likely only to apply to elite rugby.

Upgrade yellow to red during a sin-bin?

  • Yes (73%, 29 Votes)
  • No (28%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

If you have any ideas that are not covered above as to how rugby can reduce the injury count, let us know BTL and we’ll forward them on to Sir Billy[*].

[*] Statements may not contain actual truth.

762 Comments On “Law Changers”

  1. @sagmog>
    Sounds horrid Sag. At the risk of ruining my nonexistent reputation here, have you considered trying an osteopath? I’m completely aware they peddle an awful lot of woo, which i despise (definitely in chimpie’s camp when it comes to antivaxxers, and I have a very personal ongoing battle in that department). However I once had severe shoulder pain a few years ago and was at my wit’s end, no amount of pain relief worked. Went to an osteo, she graunched it back into place and hey presto, no more pain. Might be worth a crack?

  2. 🎵Kimchi chiminey Kimchi chiminey Kimchi charee
    A Craigs is as lucky as lucky can be
    Kimchi chiminey, kimchi chiminey, kimchim cher-oo
    Now feck off to the shed and check your preserves🎵


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