Scottish Rugby new tackling law trial explained

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Scottish Rugby will trial a new tackling law in the new community game next season in a bid to reduce the number of head-on-head contacts and concussions.

The lower tackle height law trial will be implemented in Tennent’s Premiership club game and below from the start of the 2023/24 season. It will see tackle height reduced from shoulder height to below the sternum, also known as ‘belly tackle’ height, in both gender categories of adult and youth rugby at the domestic level.

The move to lower the tackle height follows World Rugby endorsed trials conducted in France and South Africa, where lowering the tackle height has been shown to reduce the number of head-on-head contacts and concussions.

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The trials are understood to have increased ball-in-play time and offloading. The changes have also helped to increase player participation in France. Last month, World Rugby’s executive board recommended that national unions participate in an opt-in global trial.

Scottish Rugby is trialling a new tackling law in the domestic game from next seasonScottish Rugby is trialling a new tackling law in the domestic game from next season
Scottish Rugby is trialling a new tackling law in the domestic game from next season

The new law trials which have been approved by the CRB are:

· Maximum height tackle in initial contact must be below the sternum· The second tackler is still permitted, but the player must make initial contact below the sternum· There will be no change to the current laws regarding the ball carrier, but reckless play will be sanctioned (eg. leading with head) where the ball carrier put themselves or the defender at risk of a head-on-head contact

Scottish Rugby vice president Keith Wallace said: “It is vital that we place safety and enjoyment at the heart of the decisions we make. We strongly believe reducing the tackle height from next season encompasses both of those matters and will create a more positive, and ultimately safer environment, in which our sport is played.

“It has been encouraging to see the level of engagement which those in our game met the consultation period with, and their receptiveness to the evidence from World Rugby’s endorsed trials.”

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Gavin Scott, director of rugby development, added: “The consultation provided significant insight into how those at the heart of our game feel, and I’m pleased the overwhelming majority believe in the benefits of tackle height reduction.”