Player welfare and preventing dangerous high tackles remains a high priority for SANZAAR and Super Rugby will therefore feature a Tackle Technique Review Process trial in 2020.
To oversee the trial SANZAAR has appointed a tackle technique review officer. Former player and recently retired international referee Glen Jackson will begin work from Round 1. The 2018 New Zealand referee of the year, Jackson was the first Kiwi to play and referee 100 first-class matches.
Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos stated, “The High Tackle Technique Review process will not impose any sanctions on Players. It is not designed to penalise the player in any way but to hopefully shine a light on poor technique that has been shown to increase the risk of significant injury and attempt to affect behavioural change via education and identification.”
“We are extremely fortunate to have Glen take up this role. His career includes refereeing 32 international matches, 88 Super Rugby matches and 60 Mitre 10 Cup matches in New Zealand. He only recently retired as a referee and is ideally placed to act as the review officer for the law trial.”
“Of course, those tackles deemed high and reckless or dangerous will be treated under the existing laws of the game and will incur sanctions.”
Research has shown that the majority of concussions are caused by tacklers who tackle with an upright body. SANZAAR is focusing on implementing a process that identifies high-risk upright tackles. The shadow trial will see SANZAAR looking at all tackles each round and identifying tackles in which the tackler is in an upright body position, and in the event it is deemed the tackler has shown poor technique in executing an upright tackle, a warning may be sent to the player and player's coach.
This process will be an educational process that will aim to educate players and coaches of high-risk behaviours by identifying poor tackle techniques and seeking to inform players of better choices they can make in the tackle zone.
On January 13 World Rugby issued a media statement that set out the various law trials that would be trialled in various domestic competitions around the world in 2020 [click here]. The trials were approved for the four-year law amendment review cycle that began after the 2019 World Cup following an analysis by the Law Review Group last March and several unions expressed interest in operating one or more of the trials. SANZAAR is supportive of this process and awaits the outcomes of these trials to ascertain their effect on player welfare and the game.