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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

Jackson Set for Premiership Debut

Former Ireland international is set to make his first appearance for London Irish in the Premiership this weekend

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Ulster and Ireland fly-half Paddy Jackson is set to make his Gallagher Premiership debut for London Irish against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday.

The 27-year-old made a controversial switch to the English side during the summer from Perpignan. Jackson was acquitted of rape last year but ultimately had his IRFU contract torn-up forcing him to continue his career elsewhere. 

Since his move to Irish there have been mixed messages from fans as some want to focus on the rugby and let him play while others have threatened to protest throughout the season should he be selected. 

His arrival certainly caused a stir and saw long-term sponsor Diageo leave the club following years of support, while Jackson also had to be left at home when his side went to Munster for a pre-season match last month as fears grew over possible protests if he returned to Ireland. 

The club’s director of rugby Declan Kidney has repeatedly stated that Jackson was signed due to rugby reasons and has stood by his decision to bring him in. 

It remains to be seen how the fans will react to him playing but there could be an indicator this weekend. 

There are also Premiership debuts for the likes of Ruan Botha and Curtis Rona who were among a raft of signings during the summer, with players such as Adam Coleman and Sekope Kepu still to come in following their time at the Rugby World Cup

Speaking ahead of the season opener Kidney is excited to get back up and running in the top tier of English Rugby. 

“The squad have worked hard in training this week and are excited at the challenge of facing Wasps on Sunday. Wasps had a good win over Worcester last weekend, so we are aware of the task we face and what is required if we are to get a result,” he said. 

The Exiles came up from the Championship last season and made their signings with the hope of making an instant impact in the Premiership. As the season progresses fans and players alike will hope that what happens on the field will make the headlines and not what goes on off it. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe ©, 5 Ruan Botha, 6 Matt Rogerson, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Albert Tuisue

Replacements:

16 Ross McMillan, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 George Nott, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Matt Williams

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Premiership

Leicester Eying Up England Coach Post-RWC

Leicester Tigers are reportedly trying to tempt one of England’s key coaches to Welford Road after the Rugby World Cup in Japan

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers appear to be interested in taking on England forwards coach Steve Borthwick when the country is finished at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

A report by RugbyPass claims that the former England captain will not only be signed up but will receive a senior role which will focus on getting the club’s forwards up to scratch following a number of poor seasons where the pack has been a constant let-down for many fans. 

With that in mind the English outfit went out all guns blazing in the summer transfer window signing the likes of Argentina’s Tomas Lavanini as well as Hanro Liebenberg, Calum Green, Nephi Leatigaga and Jordan Taufua to bolster their forward options. 

That may be an attractive offer for Borthwick as he is not only working with any forwards but some of the best and biggest names in the game. 

It still seems unclear as to what role he would have with different reports claiming he may come in as a head coach with current coach Geordan Murphy moving to a director of rugby role, or Murphy may remain as head coach with Borthwick coming in as director of rugby. 

Some had thought he would come in directly as a forwards coach, however, current forwards coach Mark Bakewell was only brought in last year so it seems unlikely that he would be moving on. 

Either way he would be leaving Eddie Jones’ England camp for a high-profile and powerful role with a well respected team that are looking to build for the future. 

Leicester will be hoping to improve on their poor 2018/19 Premiership season where they narrowly avoided relegation and the help of Borthwick would be a huge boost. However, he will not be joining until at least November. The Tigers main focus at the moment will be Saturday’s Premiership opener against Worcester

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Premiership

Suspensions Handed Down to Premiership Duo

Two Premiership players will miss the start of the competition for the 2019/20 season after being given suspensions

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Saracens’ Charlie Watson and Leicester’s Tatafu Polota-Nau will both miss the start of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season after being handed suspensions earlier today.

Watson was shown a red-card during his team’s game with Northampton over the weekend in the Premiership Cup, after being seen to kick Saints player Andrew Symons in the face. 

A statement from panel chair Richard Whittam stated that Watson was involved in clear foul play but was also being fouled himself leading to his actions. 

“The panel accepted this was an act of frustration by the player in trying to release his leg from being held by Northampton Saints 12. Contact was clearly made with the face of the Northampton player but the action was petulant rather than with any intent to cause injury. In this instance, no injury was suffered and the Northampton player continued in the match after returning from the yellow card,” he said. 

He went on to say that the normal punishment for such an offence would be a minimum of eight weeks, however, due to Watson’s clean record the Saracens man would only receive a four-week ban. 

“The sanction table mandates a mid-range entry point where there is contact with the head. In this case, that entry point is eight weeks. The panel found no reason to go above that. The player accepted the charge, has no previous record and expressed remorse for his actions. In the circumstances, the panel felt able to give the player the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent. The panel note that while the yellow card awarded to Northampton Saints 12 was not brought before them for consideration, it is disappointing to see actions of this nature in the professional game,” he said. 

The result of the hearing means that Watson will be unavailable for selection for the current holders until November 8th. 

Meanwhile Polota-Nau, who was also red-carded during the weekend’s cup fixtures for a dangerous tackle on Bath’s William Chudley was seen to today with Whittam again explaining that the players remorse and record would see his suspension reduced.

“The player accepted that he had committed an act of foul play in tackling a player high, making contact to the top of his chest/bottom of the neck. In accepting the charge, the player acknowledged that the mandatory mid-range entry point would apply. The player was entitled to mitigation for his early acceptance of the charge, his clean record over an impressive rugby career, his genuine remorse for the injury caused and his off-field contributions to the local community. The panel allowed the full 50 per cent reduction resulting in a sanction of three weeks,” he said. 

His ban will see him out of action until October 29th in what is a big blow for Leicester. 

Saracens open their campaign by hosting Northampton on Saturday October 19th while Leicester begin on the same day with a trip to Worcester but both will be without their respective players for the beginning of the season. 

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