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Premiership

RFU Scrap ‘Tackle Height Trial’ – “unanticipated’ finding”

‘unanticipated’ finding’

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Written by Reynardt Deminey
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

The Championship Cup tackle height trial will not continue for the knockout stages of the competition, which will begin on Saturday 2 February 2019. This was confirmed by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) today.

Interim Chief Executive Nigel Mellville stated that: “The RFU is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury-prevention”

“This was always a trial and we weren’t sure what the outcomes would be. Our two main objectives were to determine whether through law change the height of the tackle can actually be reduced and if a reduction in the height of the tackle then leads to a reduction in concussion risk”, he added.

The trial which was scheduled to run for the duration of the competition did succeed in lowering tackle heights. There was a 24% decrease in tackles where contact was made on the player above the armpit line, a 25% decrease in tackles where contact was made on an upright player above the armpit line by an upright tackler and a 41% decrease in the number of tackles where contact was made with the head or the neck of the player carrying the ball.

Despite the first objective being achieved, there was an unanticipated increase in concussion risk to the tackler where contact was made above the armpit line with a bent at the waist ball carrying player, the RFU said.

Melville added: “We need to analyse the data in more detail, but our preliminary analysis has shown all of these incidents occurred when a bent at the waist tackler was attempting to tackle a bent at the waist ball carrier following a short pass from the scrum half. This is an area that the trial was not specifically looking to influence as the primary focus was to reduce the risk of concussion where ball carrier and tackler were both upright. We will be analysing this particular situation in more detail.”

“Overall this has been an extremely valuable exercise. We’ve learnt a lot and tested an approach to reducing the risk of concussion in a real-life setting. We have shown that reducing tackle height is achievable and we already have useful and detailed data from the first 36 matches in this 43-game cup competition.”

As a result of the decision to not continue with the trial, match officials will revert to the original rule for the knock out fixtures. The line of the shoulders will again be the permitted tackle height when the knockout stages begin.

Before releasing the final report the RFU will be analysing the data in more detail. The report will be discussed at the World Rugby meeting in France in March.

Melville added that the RFU would like to thank all clubs, coaches, medics, management, players and fans for their support, understanding, and engagement during the trial.

“The RFU is constantly looking at ways to make the game safer and looks forward to taking this research to the World Rugby meeting March and discussing ideas and challenges with other unions.”

Premiership

Wasps Add Rugby League Coach to Their Ranks

Wasps have become the second Premiership team in a week to sign up a rugby league coach

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(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Wasps have confirmed that Martin Gleeson will join the club from rugby league side Salford Red Devils for the 2019/20 season. 

Gleeson will join the side as the assistant attack coach, leaving the Red Devils after five years as their assistant coach.

Only last week Harlequins announced that Sean Long will join their backroom staff from rugby league side St Helens, with Gleeson’s move now perhaps showing a shift in the game.

The former rugby league player is delighted to be joining Wasps and is thankful for what Salford have provided him with.

“I’m thrilled to be making the move to Rugby Union and to be joining a team of Wasps’ calibre. I’ve had a fantastic time with Salford, but I feel now is the right time for a new challenge. Premiership Rugby is one of the most competitive leagues in Rugby Union so this is certainly a challenge I’m relishing, and I can’t wait to meet the team,” he said.

The 39-year-old will join-up with Attack and Backs coach Lee Blackett and is also being brought in to help develop the wider team and achieve their goals.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young noted that he wants to expand his current coaching staff and is happy that Gleeson could become part of it.

“We have operated with a smaller coaching team than most Premiership clubs for a while now. The plan was always to bolster it and I’m pleased to have found Martin, who is an exciting young coach. I believe he can really add to what we are trying to build here at Wasps. Martin has forged a very strong reputation as a quality coach within Rugby League, having made a big impact with Salford,” he said.

As well as Young and Blackett, Wasps have defence coach Ian Costello and forwards coach Andy Titterrell, however Young believes the attacking side of things is more than a one-man job.

“Our current coaches have done an excellent job. I’m really pleased with how they have developed in their first Premiership coaching roles, and with Martin coming on board I am really pleased with how our set-up is looking ahead of the new season. Our attack has been a strong part of our game and we have been one of the top try-scoring teams in the Premiership for a number of seasons. Lee has done a great job for us, but I now feel that attack is more than a one-man job. We took a step back last season from where we would have liked to have been. Between the two of them, I believe they will complement each other and get our attack back to where we want it to be,” he added.

As well as the new coaches Wasps have added a host of players to their squad and are looking like a side to watch out for next season.

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Premiership

Solomons commits to Worcester Warriors until 2022

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons has committed himself to the club until the end of the 2021/22 season.

Solomons’ existing contract expires at the end of next season but he has now signed a two-year extension.

“Jason Whittingham and I both think Alan has done a great job of managing the team and rugby department since starting at Warriors,” said Warriors co-owner Colin Goldring.

“We both support his vision and plan to achieve a sustainable top flight team with the Three Pears Warriors Academy at its core, supported by top-class talented and experienced players.

“We are delighted that Alan has signed his contract extension which ensures continuity and stability.”

Solomons joined Warriors in October 2017, initially as a consultant, and was appointed Director of Rugby two months later.

Solomons helped Warriors secure their Gallagher Premiership status in his first season in charge and to a record-equalling nine Premiership wins, a place in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals and the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals this season.

“I am honoured to be afforded the privilege of being part of Warriors’ continuing journey and look forward to working with Colin and Jason and all concerned to realise our vision for the club,” Solomons said.

Solomons, a former lawyer, was Head Coach of Western Province and The Stormers Super Rugby team and took the Stormers to their first-ever home semi-final in 1999. He was also part of South Africa’s coaching team that guided the Springboks to a record-equalling 17 consecutive Test wins and finished third in the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

During Solomon’s time in charge of Ulster Rugby they won the Celtic Cup in 2003 and in the same year were runners up in the Celtic League. He was voted Northern Ireland Coach/Manager of the Year in 2003.

Solomons was then High Performance Consultant for the International Rugby Board from 2007 to 2010 and in 2009 coached the Southern Kings in their debut match against the British and Irish Lions.

He coached the Eastern Province Kings to three successive Division One finals, lifting the trophy in 2010 and 2012 before taking the Southern Kings into Super Rugby in 2013.

Solomons then coached Edinburgh,taking them to a first ever European Challenge Cup final and winning back-to-back 1872 Cups against Glasgow.

Solomons has also been Director of Rugby of USA Eagles and coached Northampton Saints and the Barbarians.

Images & Content from Worcester Warriors

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Premiership

Guinness end London Irish sponsorship in wake of Paddy Jackson signing

“(Irish’s) recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship”

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Diageo, the parent company of Guinness have terminated their long-standing sponsorship deal with London Irish. The deal has been in place for 30 years but was officially terminated yesterday due to London Irish’s decision to sign former Irish International Paddy Jackson who was cleared of rape last year.

Guinness are the second sponsor to cut ties with the Exiles after Cash Converters ended their association last month.

London Irish have since come out to state that Cash Converters terminated their deal prior to the announcement of Jackson’s signing.

Diageo, who own Guinness, had recently extended the partnership with the club in 2016, calling it a ‘very special’ relationship.

Jackson’s signing has since prompted them to reassess the deal and a statement yesterday read;

‘(Irish’s) recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship,’

London Irish released a statement in response to the news yesterday.

‘The club has always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion, It is regretful that this relationship has ended in the manner that it has.’

There has been a mixed reaction on social media to the news.

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