New rule set to be implemented could change Rugby Union identity

Rugby Union could be set for a massive change as the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are considering clamping down on high tackling with immediate red card penalties being given to those who offend.

The controversy was sparked following Owen Farrell’s high tackle on André Esterhuizen during England’s dramatic victory over South Africa in the Autumn Internationals, Farrell appeared to tackle high, with his shoulder almost connecting cleanly with Esterhuizen’s face, but the tackle was deemed legal by referee Angus Gardner.

Owen Farrell was the most recent player to cause controversy over a high tackle. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
Owen Farrell was the most recent player to cause controversy over a high tackle.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

This subject has drawn different reviews from many positions within rugby and Eastleigh Rugby Football Club Chairman Mark Jones believes that the safety of the players is paramount however there needs to be certain considerations made by the governing bodies.

“I think we probably have to be realistic and take an attitude that safety is paramount.” He said.

“If rugby is going to develop as a game and attract more talent, we need to develop as a game.”

Consideration was also mentioned by Eastleigh Rugby Football Club head of recruitment Russell Smith, who believes that referees will need to be considerate of player heights when judging whether a high tackle was intentional or not.

He said: “A referee needs to be aware of whats going on and who tackles who.

“I’m 6ft 6inch tall and if I tackle someone who is 5ft 5inch I think it needs to be taken into consideration by the referee.”

High tackling has always been a difficult subject in rugby with concussion being the most common injury in rugby over the past six years, 20.9 concussions happening every 1000 match minutes.

With various arguments coming from both sides of the incident, the RFU may find it difficult to implement a new high tackle ruling that maintains the player safety and consideration which is desperately needed by the sport.

 

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