The IRFU Union Committee officially voted this week to participate in World Rugby's global trial aimed at lowering the tackle height in the community game. This trial will specifically target tackles below the line of the sternum.
The primary objective of this trial is to encourage a greater emphasis on belly tackles, thereby minimizing instances of head-on-head impact during tackles.
This decision comes after a prior vote by the IRFU Rugby Committee and an extensive consultation process involving various stakeholders in Irish Rugby.
Recent studies conducted by World Rugby and laboratories have revealed that the risk of head injuries is highest when tackles are directed towards the head and shoulder region. Conversely, the risk is significantly reduced when tackles are made to the belly area.
The decision to opt into the global trial follows a comprehensive community consultation process.
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RFU Rugby Development Director Colin McEntee said: “Based on the findings of the community consultation process, there is a critical mass of stakeholders who are clearly open to change for the good of the game.”
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who engaged with us throughout – the constructive feedback we received on both sides of the argument has shaped how we’ll be implementing the trial and supporting everyone in making it a success for the future of our sport.”
“The trial itself won’t present any significant changes to how we coach the tackle – it’s only the matter of a few centimetres.
“But it is a significant element of a wider drive to improve tackle behaviours. From next week, players, coaches and match officials can look forward to a new suite of resources being rolled out across the summer.”
The trial will be implemented across all amateur IRFU and provincial competitions, encompassing age-grade and adult levels in clubs and schools, during the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.