Scottish Rugby launches community consultation process on tackle height

Series of webinars will take place next week

Scottish Rugby will begin a consultation on the prospect of lowering tackle height in the community game next week. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scottish Rugby will begin a consultation on the prospect of lowering tackle height in the community game next week. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY has announced plans to conduct a wide-ranging consultation process with players, coaches and referees on the issue of lowering tackle height in the community game.

This initiative has been launched after the Club Rugby Board (CRB), which oversees the community game in Scotland under the Scottish Rugby Union’s new governance structure, received a presentation from Scottish Rugby’s Rugby Development Department on Monday.

Lowering tackle height is a proposal supported by World Rugby, with research studies conducted in France and South Africa showing a reduction in the number of head-on-head contacts and concussions. It has also shown positive outcomes regarding increased ball-in-play time and offloading.


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There was a furious backlash last month when the RFU Council in England voted unanimously to lower the legal tackle height across the English community game to below the waist from next season with next to no consultation, so Scottish Rugby is clearly keen to adopt a more collaborative approach to dealing with this thorny issue.

The CRB has agreed for the Rugby Development department to deliver a series of consultative webinars next week, where Scottish Rugby will gather views from a broad spectrum of stakeholders within the community game.

During the webinars, representatives from Rugby Development will share more information on the cited research, discuss possible law changes which may be considered and take views from those in attendance.

“It is important that as custodians for the community game, we continue to look at ways we can make our game as safe and enjoyable as possible,” said Keith Wallace, Vice President of Scottish Rugby and Chairman of the CRB.

“With new evidence emerging on the positive outcomes of reducing the tackle height to the number of head-on-head contacts and concussions, we must take the time to review the information and possible changes with those at the heart of our game.”

Gavin Scott, Director of Rugby Development added: “This period of consultation will not only be of benefit to those involved in our clubs, schools and societies, it will also help Scottish Rugby better understand what we need to do to help prepare our players, coaches and match officials, should any changes be implemented for next season. We look forward to engaging with everyone next week.”

Tackle Height Consultation Webinars

  • Wednesday 22 February, 7:30pm | National League club representatives (for club leaders and committee members) | Click HERE to register.
  • Wednesday 22 February, 8:30pm | Regional League club representatives (for club leaders and committee members) | Click HERE to register.
  • Thursday 23 February, 7:30pm | Match Officials (for panel, society, club and school match officials) | Click HERE to register.
  • Monday 27 February, 7:30pm | Youth Game (for players, coaches and directors of rugby) | Click HERE to register.
  • Monday 27 February, 8:30pm | Adult Game (for players, coaches and directors of rugby) | Click HERE to register.

Following these initial consultations, the Club Rugby Board and the Rugby Development department will communicate next steps.


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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

14 Comments

  1. On the subject of tackling how is a ”Tap Tackle legal”no arms used to wrap around the tackled player.?

  2. In my Teens Athletics [100-440] was my sport and I used to do my additional training in the local park and on the beach with another lad who was playing Rugby for a local club and he persuaded me to ‘give it a go’.
    With absolutely no background to Rugby whatsoever and built like a stick insect I asked for as much advice as possible from players at Club training nights and the one oft repeated advice was ‘tackle low, they can’t run without their legs’.
    If as a total novice to the game from a different Sport I was able to learn the skill within a couple of months prior to my first season, how come some of the voices from today’s players seem to think it isn’t possible, or have I missed something?

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  3. Dom spot on for me and at least SRU are consulting on this. One aside I would make is that in addition to the tackle height we should be looking at clearouts in rucks. Some dangerous stuff in there. One issue that isn’t often appreciated on tackle height is the tackle from behind that carrier can’t see but which is currently legal but results in a real whiplash because ball carrier cannot see the hit coming. That can only be dangerous.

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    • Not wishing to be controversial or over critical of your ideas but are you suggesting ban tackles from behind? What’s the alternative pass the ball carrier at speed get ahead turn and tackle? Sorry on that basis if you made a break and nobody was between you and the line, even if it was on the halfway line you can’t tackle the ball carrier. As regards whiplash even if the ball carrier was stationary I can’t see that the tackler from behind could impart such force as to cause whiplash.

  4. All discussions to make the game safer are welcome. In my opinion due to less technology being available and in general less medical attention on site that will require community rugby to play to different regulations to the pro game . That in turn may potentially mean those with pro ambitions will have to play in something like S6 in order to be prepared.
    Rightly the game needs to change and that need over rides tradition and may well see bigger and wider changes than anticipated.

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  5. If it’s navel or above for sanctioning, belly button or below for target area and leeway between – i.e. if you are tackling at ball height or below then crack on – well then that is fine and welcome and deliverable by players AND critically officials

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  6. This is a positive step. We need a step change in attitude and action in rugby over brain trauma.

    The research is pointing toward a lower tackle height. It can’t be just that though. Make the game more aerobic by reducing subs, remove any player who has a head knock. The tackler can’t dip to wriggle out if the tackle.

    Was chaotic in France when they did it but it needs time to adjust for players and officials. The trial in the championship in England was badly set up and abandoned to early to be a reference point.

    One plea though – please have more consideration for clubs. Giving one weeks notice for meetings of this importance is poor practice. I understand the need for speed here but enabling people to attend is important

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    • spot on Dom, 100% agreement from me.
      Action is needed and data from France is pretty conclusively positive

    • I’d agree. I’m involved in Ireland and it has gone before the IRFU and provinces for vote.

      The backlash from the rugby community in England was due to the way it was landed to them. Hopefully the SRU have learned from this.

      All everybody wants, apart from the “games gone soft” merchants, is to leave a safer game behind us for our children. My boy is just about to move into youths rugby in the next year or so. I don’t want him having a legacy in later life of misery.

      Rugby at its very core is a great environment to be around.

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