Rugby concussions: why players should be punished for putting themselves at risk

first_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian features Read more Are AFL players with concussion returning to play too soon? Topics Share on LinkedIn Some might argue that would take away a gladiatorial aspect of the game, but it may also enhance the play by giving the attacking team more time and space. There would be pros and cons, but ultimately, player welfare must be the main priority.The High Tackle Warning System was trialed at last year’s Under-20 world championships in France last year, and will be again at this year’s tournament in Argentina, which kicks off next Tuesday. If the system proves effective in reducing head injuries, it could be introduced to Super Rugby and Test Rugby on a trial basis with a view to bringing it into the next World Cup in France in 2023.When World Rugby first began to clamp down on head-high tackles because of the incidence of concussion, there were cries of outrage from old-school types that the game was becoming soft. But as long as coaches and players are clear about the law and referees apply it consistently, most followers of the game appreciate efforts to protect players from serious injury.The unsafe tackle problem is expected to be the biggest player welfare issue facing rugby in coming years and it is vital the world governing body has a strategy to deal with the issue – even if it means sanctioning players for doing harm only to themselves. Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Australia sport Matt Cleary The main reason more tacklers are sustaining head injuries than tackled players is the trend of fast line-speed in defence. Ever since the British & Irish Lions employed a fast line-speed in their defence to draw their series with the All Blacks in 2017, the highly aggressive defensive system has been in fashion around the world.Now almost every team uses a fast line-speed to shut down the space of the attacking team and put them under pressure. The problem is that players are moving up out of the defensive line so quickly they are not giving themselves enough time to get into a safe position to make the tackle. Rushing up in defence in an upright position has resulted in head clashes with the ball-carrier as well as heads knocking against hard bones such as hips and elbows.World Rugby has looked at ways to change this unsafe behaviour and has decided there needs to be a consequence even if it means penalising a player for hurting no one but himself. There is a real push to look at ways of lowering the tackler in the tackle contest so that the players drop their head below head height to avoid head on head clashes.A new sanction, called the High Tackle Warning System, is being trialed at the Under-20s level. If you are a tackler and you go into the tackle in an upright position and there is an associated head injury you receive a warning. If you have three warnings through a tournament or competition, you step into a sanction which could lead to being stood down for a game.It would be a little bit like penalising a prop for poor technique in scrummaging, which threatens the safety of the player and others. If this law was applied to Super Rugby and Test rugby, it could lead to a complete re-thinking of the way teams defend and significantly change the look of the game. Certainly, it could result in teams dramatically reducing their line-speed in defence. Rugby union Share on Twitter Concussion in sport Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest It may sound paradoxical, but it has been estimated by World Rugby that up to 70% of head injuries in the game are sustained by the tackler, rather than the tackled player. It’s a growing problem the game is facing and one which may require a radical law change to solve.In recent years World Rugby has demanded referees show virtually zero tolerance to attacking the head of an opponent to minimise concussion, which is one of the biggest player welfare issues in the game. Yet for all of World Rugby’s concerted efforts to reduce head injuries, the problem has not gone away – and the reason may surprise.There has been a significant shift away from players committing head-high tackles, but it is the damage players are doing to themselves while making the tackle that is now causing rugby officials a great deal of concern. To fix the problem may well require the introduction of a sanction that punishes players for placing themselves in an unsafe position while effecting a tackle. Share via Email World Rugby Read more Share on WhatsApp Concussions in sport: I stopped playing after sustaining head knocks Reuse this contentlast_img

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