World Rugby introduces new law amendments to prevent injury risk

Irish centre Bundee Aki was sent off in the World Cup for this tackle
Irish centre Bundee Aki was sent off in the World Cup for this tackle Photo credit: Getty

World Rugby has introduced a set of law amendments to be trialled during Super Rugby in a bid to improve player safety and reduce the risk of injuries.

The trials were approved for the four-year law amendment review cycle that began after the 2019 World Cup.

Preventing dangerous high tackles remains a high priority for World Rugby, as it looks to reduce the number of concussions.

The High Tackle Technique Warning, which was trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship and reduced concussions by more than 50 percent, will now be trialled in the Super Rugby championship, which begins on January 31, and also the Top 14 in France.

"While the recent Rugby World Cup demonstrated a slight decrease in injury rates and a 30 percent reduction in concussions owing to the implementation of evidence-based injury prevention programmes, we can and must do more to reduce injuries at all levels," said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

"We've already seen hugely encouraging initial outcomes and feedback from Australia's National Rugby Championship, and are delighted to have such a broad range of elite and community leagues running trials, thanks to the support of our unions and regions."

Reducing the tackle height to the waist is also part of the package of law amendments designed to reduce injuries to both the tackled player and tackler, while also encouraging more offloads.

Teams will also have the opportunity to review yellow cards for players sent to the sin bin, so those guilty of dangerous foul play are rightly awarded a red card, instead of a yellow.

The law review group will reconvene in March to review the trials' results, before making recommendations to the rugby committee.

The other amendments to be trialled across the globe are:

  • 50:22 kick - If the team in possession kicks the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents' 22 or from inside their own 22 into their opponents' half, they will throw in to the resulting lineout.
  • The introduction of an infringement (penalty and free-kick) limit for teams. 
    Once a team has reached the limit, a mandatory yellow card is given to the last 
    offending player as a team sanction.
  • The awarding of a goal-line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up.