Tackle Height update from Terry Burwell

Tackle Height update from Terry Burwell

Dear All 

Please circulate widely within your club the communication below from our Hampshire RFU Council representative Terry Burwell regarding the Tackle height changes.

Any comments or those people wishing to be included in the consultation – 

Contact Terry direct by 23rd February on – terryburwell@gmail.com

Thank you

Yours in rugby

Julie Greenslade

Executive Director

Update from TB arising from Steerco and Council Meeting

I promised to update you on discussions at the ‘Tackle Height’ Steerco last Thursday and the RFU Council meeting on Monday 13th February.

The Steerco meeting looked closely at the potential law changes and how they might be implemented to achieve the objective to reduce the risk of head injury by addressing the legal height of the tackle and the related responsibilities of both tackler and ball carrier.

It also discussed in detail how we could ensure that all stakeholders in the game had an opportunity to be involved in a meaningful ‘consultation and engagement’ programme, a view that was clearly expressed at the Clubs meeting.

RFU Council expressed its concern and indeed the game’s concern at how the change had been communicated and a full review will be undertaken on both the process and outcome of the 16th January decision.  However, this should not distract from the need to engage with the game on the impact of law changes on the game, it’s safety and enjoyment and the participants at all levels

We are  finalising the law detail, in parallel with the ‘consultation and engagement plan and this will be communicated as part of that process.  The engagement  will include a range of options for individuals to be involved from across the spectrum of the community game, from all stakeholder groups. 

A series of workshops and  forums, run throughout March, will be a mix of face to face and virtual to optimise attendance.  These forums will give the attendees the opportunity to discuss with the RFU leadership what the law changes mean to them and what they think should be included to make them a success. Alongside the forums, there will be an open survey, giving everyone the chance to have their say, as well as a series of online focus groups.(expected to go live 1st March)

These roadshows will only work if we can get representations from all corners of the game across the senior men’s and women’s game and age grade rugby, including players(of all demographics), coaches, match officials, parent, teachers, clubs and CB volunteers, disciplinary officers, safeguarding and Rugby Safe Officers, and medics/physio support.  The objective  is to engage with as many as 1000 representatives from across the Community game, including  up to 45  of the Hampshire rugby family, where they can represent their views and those of their club, school or college in a meaningful forum.

Please ask members of your rugby group, in all categories, if they would like to be involved and encourage anyone that does so to engage with their peer group to obtain the widest possible perspective on this issue.  I appreciate that at this moment, detail on any proposals has not been finalised but I’m confident we will obtain volunteers who can represent the views of their organization, themselves and their colleagues.

We will be co-ordinating the representation from Hampshire through the County Office.  If you, or someone from your organisation would like to be involved, please let the County Office know  by 23rd February (Email to hampshirerugby@yahoo.co.uk including in the Subject Line – “Nomination for RFU Tackle Height Consultation”) with details of the section of the game that you (or they) will represent at the roadshows.

These responses will be then be used to ensure that we have a wide representation from our game across Hampshire and we will be returning our list to the RFU on 24th February.  We will do our best to find a forum, and attendance medium, that ensures that all individuals selected can attend the workshops, and you will be given options to help you in that regard.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to drop me a message (terryburwell@gmail.com)

High level summary from Clubs meeting on 8th Feb held at Trojans RFC

The main objective is to minimise the head to head contact in open play, trying to avoid 2 heads being in the same space.

  • The height has been lowered to remove the risk of two players heads in the same space. More serious injuries occur when there is head-to-head contact, a move to lower the height should reduce this.
  • The ball carrier must not late dip – this could be unworkable for referees and players alike – the ball carrier must not endanger the tackler.

There was a lively discussion regarding the content of the slides, and whilst some remained sceptical, there was an understanding of the need to lower the tackle height.  Reference was made to the Ross Tucker video emphasising that the green zone is likely to be between the hips and sternum.

The main concern is the future of the game, especially with the RFU cutting the RDOs and education programmes, resulting in a failure to set out the positive benefits of rugby to the widest audience.  There is a lack of courses to support teachers grow the sport in schools and access for club coaches to improve their CPD, and once again the lack of RDOs is key in promoting the sport safely in schools.

It was perceived that the RFU is looking to change how rugby is played and how that could affect numbers in clubs, with some clubs believing they would lose a lot of players and leading to them folding.   The meeting was assured that this was not intended to fundamentally change the game and this was not a move towards either rugby league or touch rugby, as some feared.

Further discussion was held on the changes to the law regarding the responsibilities of both the tackler and the ball carrier.  Ultimately, the changes are seeking to prevent the ball carrier from late dipping into the tackle.   It was agreed that the wording in the new RFU laws must be clear and concise, the definitions must be backed up by pictures where necessary. It was also raised as a concern that the timeline seems far too close (By 1st July 2023) when education for players, match officials and coaches must be rolled out. It was felt that there should be courses and webinars available to all as soon as the law wording has completed. The players education being the most important, alongside match officials who will be charged with implementing on the pitch.

There was several comments, and general agreement in the room, that the RFU communication on the proposed tackle height changes have been very poor.  This has lead to significant mistrust within the game.  The proposed timeline was discussed and ultimately, the RFU has to commit to meaningful consultation with clubs.  Without this, there could be a lack of willingness from clubs to participate in the consultation.  This really needs to be announced immediately.

TB welcomed any discussion and encouraged club members to contact him via email if they wished to become part of a Hampshire working group – terryburwell@gmail.com

Terry Burwell | RFU Council Member, Hampshire

Chair, RFU Adult Competitions Management Sub-Committee

T: 07710472824


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