Rugby: World Rugby to lower tackle height to 'below nipple line'

Baby Blacks star Harry Plummer is tackled by a Fijian opponent.
Baby Blacks star Harry Plummer is tackled by a Fijian opponent. Photo credit: Getty Images

World Rugby is to trial two new tackle laws at the upcoming World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy, in a bid to combat the risk of head injuries.

The sport's governing body has announced a new programme of dedicated laws which will see the acceptable height of the tackle lowered through revised on-field and off-field sanctions, thus encouraging players to bend at the waist when attempting a tackle.

The laws lower the acceptable height of a tackle to 'below the nipple line', and additional punishments for transgressors will be implemented.

A high tackle warning will be issued if the tackler does not bend at the waist when tackling and there is clear and obvious head contact for either player.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said he is committed to lower the concussion rate in rugby.

"As a rugby father with sons playing at the elite and community level, I am committed to ensuring that rugby remains at the forefront of injury-prevention, specifically in the priority area of concussion," he said.

"As a sport, we have collectively made excellent progress in the programmes and initiatives that have been implemented, and they are benefiting players at all levels.

"This trial builds on the success of lowering of the acceptable tackle height and furthers rugby's commitment to ensure that high-risk tackles, identified through unprecedented research, are eradicated from the game, by removing contact between the tackler's head and the head of their opponent."

All participating nations competing at the U20 Championship in France were informed of the trail immediately after it was approved.

If the trial at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship is deemed successful, they may look at introducing the trial law at other tournaments.

New Zealand head into the tournament as defending champions and will face Australia, Wales and Japan in pool play.