RSV Fw: PLEASE DISTRIBUTE: World Rugby announces new measures to limit contact with the head

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For immediate release: Wednesday 14 December 2016
Issued on behalf of World Rugby
World Rugby announces new measures to limit contact with the head
  • New law application guideline will codify zero-tolerance to contact with the head
  • Approach informed by largest-ever study identifying most common situations leading to head injuries
  • Players, coaches and match officials urged to be proactive in changing culture
  • Latest step in proactive, evidence-driven approach to injury reduction
  • Head is a no-go area

World Rugby has further strengthened its commitment to injury prevention by announcing details of a zero-tolerance approach to reckless and accidental head contact in the sport.

While injuries in the game are not on the rise, the federation continues to be proactive in furthering evidence-based strategies to reduce injury risk for all players.

In a change to law, World Rugby has redefined illegal (high) tackle categories and increased sanctions to deter high tackles via a law application guideline. This will apply at all levels of the game from 3 January 2017 introducing minimum on-field sanctions for reckless and accidental contact with the head, effectively lowering the acceptable height of the tackle.The guideline will be supported with a global education programme.

The approach, approved by the World Rugby Council after extensive expert, independent and union evaluation, combines with new disciplinary sanctions and a re-focus of match officials on dangerous play. It will provide a package of measures that aims to change culture in the sport to ensure that the head is a no-go area.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "World Rugby continues to be proactive in aligning with the latest evidence-based recommendations in this priority player welfare area to ensure players and coaches at all levels of the game are appropriately educated, managed and protected when it comes to head impacts and injury within the environment of a contact sport.

"We believe that we are playing a leading role in terms of the development and implementation of best-practice interventions and this important study further reflects our commitment to an evidence-based approach to player welfare. We believe that the invaluable data from this study will inform the law review process and lead to changes in playing or training practices."

Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong said: "When it comes to protecting the head and neck of players, everyone is rightly very cautious now. The culture around concussion has completely changed and it’s no longer acceptable for players to continue in a game if they’re even suspected of having a concussion. When it comes to dealing effectively with concussion in sport, rugby is at the forefront. The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) supports any measure that protects our welfare and we are in favour of this initiative, which we believe will help further to reduce head and neck injuries at all levels of the game. Rugby is a physical sport and there will always be a level of injury risk associated with it but the sport is doing as much as it can to make it as safe as possible."

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery added: "The findings of this important research study will also be prepared into a series of scientific articles that we aim to have published in peer-reviewed journals. We continue to welcome and facilitate all quality research for the betterment of the game in this priority area.

"World Rugby is committed to playing a leading role in the sporting head injury agenda and continues to drive forward evidence-based strategies in education, prevention, management and research that are proving successful in protecting players at all levels of the sport."

From 3 January, 2017, two new categories of dangerous tackles will carry penalty offences to deter and eradicate high tackles:

Reckless tackle
A player is deemed to have made reckless contact during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game if in making contact, the player knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway. This sanction applies even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. This type of contact also applies to grabbing and rolling or twisting around the head/neck area even if the contact starts below the line of the shoulders.

Minimum sanction: Yellow card
Maximum sanction: Red card

Accidental tackle
When making contact with another player during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game, if a player makes accidental contact with an opponent’s head, either directly or where the contact starts below the line of the shoulders, the player may still be sanctioned. This includes situations where the ball-carrier slips into the tackle.

Minimum sanction: Penalty


Global education programme
World Rugby will support this initiative with a global awareness and education programme aimed at:

  • Reinforcing the zero-tolerance culture regarding head contact in the game at all levels using practical advice and visual educational materials
  • Educating that illegal tackles are not necessarily defined by where they start as they can slip up from a legal position to make contact with the neck/head
  • Educating that "bent at the waist” while tackling and entering into contact is the optimal position for injury prevention
  • Promoting best-possible technique to protect the head – expert advice will be obtained from elite defence coaches to identify the best tackle technique and the best impact position for the ball-carrier, including guidelines on double and treble tackling.

World Rugby is also investigating the practicality of a closed trial of a lowered tackle height at community age-grade level in 2017.

Extensive research programme
This ground-breaking programme is entirely evidence-based and these interventions have been developed by game experts following extensive research examining videos of more than 600 incidents leading to head injury assessments (HIA)* occurring across 1,516 elite-level matches globally between 2012 and 2015.

Specifically, World Rugby investigated circumstantial and law factors that may contribute to head injury events to enable the international federation’s game expert group to determine whether potential law amendments or other interventions are indicated.

The study focused on tackle injuries and considered a number of conditions associated with the tackle including: The presence of foul play; what happened at the preceding event; the nature and angle of contact; body positions at the point of impact; the tackle height; the relative velocity at the time of impact; the number of tacklers involved; the type of tackle; and other variables.

The data confirmed that 76 per cent of all head injuries occur in the tackle, that the incidence of injury for the tackler is more than two and a half times greater than the ball-carrier and that tackle height is a contributing factor.

Headline findings:

  • 611 HIA incidents were reviewed from 1,516 elite matches
  • 76 per cent of HIA incidents occur in the tackle
  • 72 per cent of HIA incidents in the tackle occur to the tackler
  • Body position, speed and direction of tackle all influence risk

A specialist multi-disciplinary injury prevention group of game experts, comprising elite coaches and individuals with playing and match officiating experience at the elite and community levels was tasked with reviewing the data. The group then made recommendations to World Rugby’s Law Review Group and education departments for consideration with the following injury prevention interventions proposed to and approved by World Rugby’s Rugby and Executive Committees.

Editors’ notes:
While injuries in elite rugby are not increasing, Rugby is committed to an evidence-based approach to furthering injury-prevention in the sport and collaborates with subject specialists to deliver its suite of education, prevention, management and research strategies that are proven to be benefitting players at all levels. These programmes include:


  • Global ‘Recognise and Remove’ education programme in 2016 that has delivered an 80 per cent increase in the use of the www.playerwelfare.worldrugby.o rg website, which is delivered in 11 languages, while 3,100 medics have undertaken World Rugby’s elite immediate care in rugby course, 69,000 people have completed online concussion education and a further 250,000 have undertaken concussion education around the world within World Rugby’s Rugby Ready programme
  • World Rugby’s head injury guidance materials for the general public used by governments, agencies and sporting federations around the world
  • Concussion education modules and guidance for public, players and medics completed by 300,000 in 2015 and used as benchmark in sport, adopted by Scottish parliament (App available via iTunes store)
  • Mandatory accreditation of elite rugby doctors through ground-breaking tournament player welfare standards programme delivering consistency of assessment and treatment for emergency care and concussion assessment and management


  • Innovative and ground-breaking tournament player welfare standards programme boosting head injury best practice compliance
  • Untoward incident review system to ensure compliance of concussion management – a first for sport
  • A revised disciplinary sanctions framework that will operate from 3 January that will see tougher sanctions introduced for dangerous play relating to the head
  • Zero-tolerance approach to illegal or dangerous play within the match official community to deter contact with the head


  • Ground-breaking tournament player welfare standards adopted by major elite competitions, featuring six mandatory concussion education, management and review modules
  • Temporary replacement for Head Injury Assessment (HIA) adopted in law with reduction of concussed players returning to play following assessment from 56 per cent pre-HIA to four per cent at Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Introduction of pitch-side and medical room video review technology for head injury identification and assessment (used in over 60 per cent of permanent removal cases)
  • Three-point-in-time concussion assessment post-match and Graduated Return to Play
  • Independent concussion consultants advising on return to play following concussive symptoms at Rugby World Cup 2015


  • Player welfare the central consideration behind future law amendments with specialist multi-disciplinary injury-prevention group overseeing largest-ever study of head injury causes in the game
  • Commissioned and published peer-reviewed independent research investigating long-term health impact of rugby participation

For further information on World Rugby’s concussion education programmes and public guidance visit www.playerwelfare.worldrugby.o rg and you can download World Rugby’s free #RecogniseAndRemove concussion education App from the IOS store p/world-rugby-concussion-manag ement/id1031517215?mt=8

View World Rugby’s Recognise and Remove education video here >>

Watch a full interview with Dr Martin Raftery here >>

Head of Communications, World Rugby
T: +353-86-8520-826
E: dominic.rumbles
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RICHARD EVERY | High Performance Referee Manager | USA Rugby
e: revery t: 773 895 6013
2655 Crescent Dr, Suite A, Lafayette, CO 80026


Guideline: Ball Carrier Hurdling a Tackler

Please see below USA Rugby’s guideline for a Ball Carrier Hurdling a Tackler. It was informally discussed with World Rugby. It should be addressed on a case by case basis.
Ball Carrier Hurdling Tackler Guideline
We have been asked many times if this is Dangerous Play.  This is not specified in Law 10.4, and the question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no because there are so many possible variations on the situation. 
The short answer is that sometimes it is dangerous and other times it is not, depending on the circumstances.  Each play must be judged on its own merit by the referee.  Here are some factors to consider when viewing this sort of play:
1)    Dangerous Play is not restricted to the specific actions listed in 10.4.  That is a list of many of the most common occurrences of Dangerous Play, but the fact that an action isn’t listed does not mean the referee cannot penalize for something deemed dangerous when seen in a game.  Here are some actions that aren’t listed in 10.4, but which definitely could be called dangerous:
  • biting an opponent
  • spitting on an opponent
  • punching a teammate
2)    There is general agreement that if the defender is directly in front of the ball carrier and standing in a normal tackling position, and the ball carrier goes over the defender like clearing the high hurdles, this is dangerous.  There are two reasons:
  • It is dangerous to the opponent because that action brings boots into close proximity of a players face/head.
  • It is dangerous to the ball carrier because if the defender manages to make contact while attempting to tackle, the ball carrier could get flipped and land on his head/neck.
3)    Also remember that there are many examples that could be called “hurdling” that are just fine and we see them in almost every game:
  • Jumping over a player who is lying on the ground
  • Jumping to avoid the outstretched arms of a diving tackle attempt from the side.
In conclusion, if it is hurdling a standing (or crouched) defender directly in front of the ball carrier, it is dangerous.  If it is something from paragraph three it is most likely fine.  For the middle range, the referee needs to judge based on what is presented at the moment.
RICHARD EVERY  |  High Performance Referee Manager  |  USA Rugby
2655 Crescent Dr, Suite A, Lafayette, CO 80026


Notes from USAR Refs Manager

Notes for this week:
Establish BEHAVIOR: 
  1. Set standards early in the match so both teams are aware of the parameters. Playing ADV for every infringement often wastes time and energy. Set it up from the outset, it will create a better managed game.
  2. Breakdown: Generate quick ball availability by penalizing tackle infringements early and quickly as they occur, rather than playing advantage or allowing players to slow down the recycle until they are cleaned out. Quick ball availability means that the ball is available to be played by the team in possession, however they see fit.
  3. Space: Keep players onside at rucks, mauls and set pieces, and PLEASE, more awareness of players that are offside at kicks moving forward. If you are 10m+ away from where the ball lands, you still need to not move forward until you have been put onside.
  4. Scrum:
    1. More patience in the set-up. Wait for the scrum to be square and steady before the each call.
    2. Often the scrum is moving or the defense wheel the scrum 15º before the put-in. FK.
    3. All players are required to push straight. Walking around can easily be seen by the body position and legs of the locks and back row – it is illegal and should be penalized.
    4. Ensure props are bound on the side or on the back. If you allow the Loosehead to bind under the body, it gives them an easy option to bore in.
  5. Foul Play: Put the onus on players rather than debate dangerous or foul play.
RICHARD EVERY  |  High Performance Referee Manager  |  USA Rugby
2655 Crescent Dr, Suite A, Lafayette, CO 80026

Additional guidance…

On Thursday, September 29, 2016 from Richard Every at USAR <>:

After review of available matches, team coach feedback and reports, we have quite a few areas to address:

    1. Tackler Assist needs to clearly release AND come through the gate.
    2. Quick Ball means its availability is that the ball is clear without defenders slowing the recycle or being in the way – we are allowing defenders too much room to disrupt. CLEAN IT UP.
  2. SCRUM:
    1. Legally dominant teams should be rewarded.
    2. More awareness of defensive scrums under pressure:
      1. Not taking the weight on SET
      2. Walking the scrum around
      3. Dissolving the scrum (players leaving the scrum, standing up, collapsing)
    1. Put the onus on players to play within the Law
    2. More awareness of late tackles/hits on kickers and players following up.
    3. Rucks & Mauls: Joining players have to bind. Shoulder charge into a maul is not allowed and should be penalized and dealt with.
    1. Sack should be immediate. Once a maul is formed, and attempted sack is illegal and collapsing the maul
    2. Defenders have to join from the back, NOT THE SIDE.
    1. The mark for a PK or FK is where the infringement occurred or as indicated in Law, NOT WHERE THE REFEREE IS STANDING.
    2. Quick Tap PK/FK:
      1. Should be taken in the region of the mark, not within 5m from the goal line, and not ahead of the mark.
      1. Ball needs to be kicked, along the ground, OR, must leave the hands

Game Management Guidelines, September 2016

The New Game Management Guidelines:
Below are some key focus areas for match officials:
  1. Establish Behavior:
    1. Lineout:
      1. Set up & maintain a large gap (allows more room for the throw)
      2. Defensive hooker in position in the 5m area
      3. Manage numbers
      4. Sack has to be immediate
    2. Maul:
      1. Correct formation – handing the ball to a player that is not bound who then joins the maul is obstruction
      2. Ball carrier may not slide to the back – obstruction
      3. Players may not join in front of the ball carrier
      4. Defenders not to swim/slide up the side
      5. Do not allow collapsing or defenders falling to the ground to stop a driving maul
    3. Tackle:
      1. Set your standards early, rather than debate:
        1. Tacklers not rolling should be penalized early
        2. Tackler assist has to clearly release and join through the gate
        3. The key to refereeing the tackle well is positioning – work to be on the attacking side, 45º, north/south body position
    4. Space:
      1. Manage offside lines
      2. Hands on ground have to be behind the offside line
      3. Kicks in general play – offside players may not move forward – referee to instruct them to “stop”. Look across the field on both sides
    5. Scrum:
      1. Teams to form the scrum within 30 seconds: FK
      2. Three calls, three actions
      3. Ensure both teams are stationary before proceeding to the next call
      4. Props to bind on their opponents body on the side or back, not under the body or on the arm
      5. Wait for the scrum to be square and stationary before instructing the scrum half to put the ball in
      6. If the scrum is stationary (3-5s) and the ball is available to be played, instruct the scrum half to “use it”
    6. Foul Play:
      1. Do not debate foul play, put the onus on the players to keep it clean
  2. Advantage:
      1. Set standards early rather than playing excessive advantage
      2. Remember that a Penalty Kick has major benefits to a team, I.e. Kick for touch 30m+, kick at goal, etc.
      3. Do not referee advantage like you do in Sevens
  3. Referee abuse:
    1. Verbal abuse by team coaches, team staff or team substitutes directed at match officials or players should not be tolerated and the following process should be followed:
      1. The referee will ask the identified person to refrain from their behavior
      2. On the second occasion the referee will EJECT the person from the grounds
      3. Zero tolerance approach should be applied and if the person refuses to leave the referee should request that team’s captain to assist
      4. Failing compliance the referee may abandon the match
      5. The referee must restart the game according to the latest stoppage and must NOT award a penalty due to the sideline behavior
    2. It is essential that we, as a community, stand together and work together to develop rugby in the United States. It will be through mutual respect and support that we grow the game. As referees, we need to ensure that we follow the above process regarding abuse as to eliminate it from the game.
NOTE: If time expires and a team is awarded a PK, they may kick to touch to end the game, but they do not get to take the lineout. That was a trial Law approved by World Rugby for PRO Rugby and Super Rugby only.
If you have any questions or need clarifications please feel free to contact me.
RICHARD EVERY  |  High Performance Referee Manager  |  USA Rugby