World Rugby keen to trial ban on tackling above the waist

Scott Fardy of the Brumbies receives medical attention for a head injury during a Super Rugby match this year.
Scott Fardy of the Brumbies receives medical attention for a head injury during a Super Rugby match this year. David Rowland

RUGBY may undergo its most radical transformation yet with the governing body considering a ban on tackling above the waist.

Video analysis of 600 head injuries by World Rugby's medical unit has led to the game considering trials at youth level to reduce the number of concussions being suffered.

Chief medical officer Dr Martin Rafferty said: "We've found that if the ball carrier is bent at the waist then he has reduced injuries. If the tackler's bent at the waist, he has reduced injuries.”

The discoveries include that 72% of head injuries occur in the tackle, and 76% of those are suffered by the tackler.

New Zealand Rugby scientist Ken Quarrie, who also works for World Rugby's advisory group, was quoted in The Telegraph saying: "I'd certainly like to see a trial at the junior levels for a start.

"Already, it's below the chest at - I think - eight, nine, 10, 11-year-olds in New Zealand.

"I don't think it would be a major change to bring it down to the waist.”

Quarrie is part of a study into 470,000 rugby injury insurance claims in New Zealand over the past decade, from five to 40-year-olds. It is revealing different injury patterns related to age.

It would take an enormous amount of strong data to see a radical tackling change in the professional game, but that cannot be ruled out in years to come. World Rugby is meeting next week to consider more measures to reduce concussions.

Former Super Rugby flanker Josh Blackie, who was part of the world conference discussion panel, said: "Change sometimes only comes when players stand up and demand it ... the awareness and concern of players has increased in the last five years or so and the management of concussion changes have been welcomed.”


Topics:  concussion

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