Rugby: World Rugby move to lower tackle height despite growing opposition

World Rugby plan to follow England's Rugby Football Union's (RFU) lead to lower the tackle height across the elite game, despite growing opposition.

Chief executive Alan Gilpin endorsed the RFU's decision to ban tackling above the waist at the community level, and revealed other countries are poised to follow their lead.

But Gilpin explained the legal tackle height in the professional game, which is at the shoulder level, would not be lowered as far as the waist.

He confirmed World Rugby plan to stage a global trial from 2024 at the amateur level, with a decision still to be made if it will prohibit tackles above the waist.

Any change to the tackle height at the top end of rugby would not come into effect before the 2024-2025 season, and may not be implemented until after the 2027 World Cup.

"We're looking to make sure that we are implementing a lower tackle height across all parts of the game," Gilpin told the Telegraph UK. 

"How that's actually implemented is slightly different in the community game to the elite game.

"You're in a slightly different environment, for a number of reasons, in the elite part of the game, particularly at an international level, because the level of - for example - medical provision, diagnostic ability etc, is very different. 

"We obviously have television match officials, head injury assessment, the ability for immediate pitch-side care in all elite-level rugby that you don't have in the community game.

"We've got to recognise that they're not the same sport."

The RFU's has come under much criticism for their decision to lower the tackle height at the amateur level, from the third division of rugby and lower.

Many current and former players have scruitinised the move, with Blues coach Leon MacDonald unsure it's the right solution to combat head injuries.

"It just feels like it's contrary to the essence of the game a little bit, I understand why but it's a big move isn't it, it'll change the game completely," he said.

"I don't know if the game needs big overhauls right now it feels like  we're trying to consolidate a product and give the players and fans a little bit of continuity so it'll be interesting to see how it goes"

"What I'd love to see is the evidence behind it, I know I had some concussions and a lot of mine were when I did go low so I'd love to see the numbers on that and then I'd love to see the trials and the numbers that come out of it to show that it's either working or not."