Yesterday it was announced in shock news that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) had passed a law banning above-waist tackles from the amateur game. Since then, there has been chaos in the rugby community.
As soon as the news broke, there was an immediate backlash against this radical new law. Many fans have deemed the move ‘completely disrespectful to the game’ and ‘totally unfeasible’. There is a very real expectation that should the law be carried out, participation levels in the game will drop dramatically. Some experts have estimated that a 50% reduction in players wouldn’t be surprising, with many of whom choosing early retirement.
One fan, House Davidson, summed up the mood of many fans with one simple comment, “The RFU continuing to ruin rugby for the whole world, wonderful”.
There have been shouts of ‘short kings unite’, in jest, as there will be many 6 ft + players wondering how on earth they’re supposed to tackle the legs of those much shorter than them. There’s also the logistical problem of how are players supposed to make a tackle around the legs as they defend a ‘pick and go’ on their own tryline?
Oliver Hoskins was part of a similar trial a few years ago and has pointed out that players suffered “exponentially more concussions because of it”.
I was part of the trial of similar laws during the Championship Cup season a few years ago… we literally had exponentially more concussions because of it.
Tackle choice is situational and forcing low tackles in all cases is even more dangerous
I think the trial showed this 🤦🏼♂️
— Oliver Hoskins (@omdhoskins) January 19, 2023
These thoughts were echoed by Niall Cooper at Melksham Rugby Club, who claimed, “I swear more people get knocked out from getting the head on the wrong side of a chop tackle and receiving a hip to the face”. It’s these players that will be directly affected by the new laws, and as a result, have been caught up in a storm that they never asked for.
The changes have led to many wondering how this law has even been passed. Some have suggested that those at the top have never even taken to the rugby field before, let alone tackled below the waist.
Nick Easter, the former England Number 8, has called for those that have passed the law to be made accountable.
— Nick Easter (@nick_easter) January 20, 2023
A thought that has no doubt been discussed among many grassroots rugby clubs over the past day is, ‘what if we boycott the new laws?’. If the RFU don’t instigate a U-Turn before the 1st July, there could be a very serious possibility of this happening.
What would happen if every RFU grassroots club just decided to ignore this?? Or just boycott the RFU competition altogether?
I’d be advising clubs to not pay any registration fee.ADVERTISEMENT
— MaulOver Rugby Pod (@mauloverpodcast) January 20, 2023
There has since been a petition launched to reverse the laws: Petition · 2023-24 Tackling Height in the Amateur Rugby Union Game · Change.org
The description reads:
“Rugby Union, a game for all shapes and sizes, has never had that phrase more challenged than now. I completely understand the need to make the game safer and where possible eliminate the head on head collisions, but no-one is forcing anyone to play rugby union.
Dropping the tackle height to below the waist will make the game a farcical spectacle to watch. Not allowing players to dip into tackles to bump tackles off is also a crazy decision in a game that is not only about speed, but power too!
What next? Scrums, mauls – where will it stop until the game is killed off?
+ There will be penalties and yellow / red cards being handed out like confetti
+ Players will literally stop playing the game who have been taught to tackle high to stop the offload, now having to retrain old habits
+ More likely to have head on knee contact, could it cause more injury?
+ Community Clubs will struggle to fulfil sides as players give up to play less ‘complicated’ sports
+ Community clubs with big overheads will go to the wall, as they won’t get the footfall through the club to keep the revenue going
+ Kids will be pushed into playing other sports where the values are not what they should be
+ If Community Clubs go to the wall, where will kids go to keep themselves off the streets?
+ Kids of a certain size who are not blessed with express pace and see rugby as their way of playing a sport to a good level will give up. The temptation to play video games will be too easy and obesity levels will increase in those kids as they will be less active!
I could go on…Rugby is the bastion of playing hard, but learning the basic principles of discipline, teamwork and respect. Generations of people growing up will be lost to the game as a result and who will be left to teach the instagram generation of tomorrow how it should be, how to act appropriately amongst adults, learn the art of conversation and networking for the future?
If you agree, let’s get this trending and remind the RFU to STOP ruining our game!”