World Rugby considers rule changes to reduce risk of injury

World Rugby will explore potential rule changes to improve player safety and reduce the risk of injuries after delegates at a three-day player welfare symposium in Paris submitted proposals, the governing body said.

Coaches, former players, doctors and sports scientists came together to deliberate over injury data and come up with proposals before the sport’s next four-year law amendment review cycle begins after the World Cup in September.

Among the proposals were continued trials that looked at tackle height, the number of replacements used in elite games, changes to the ruck laws and reviewing a yellow card when a player is sent to the sin-bin for dangerous foul play.

They are also set look into the creation of space by examining the kicking and touch law.

“These are important first steps on the road to law review within the next Rugby World Cup cycle,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“They’re important because it is the first time that we have kick-started the process with the sole purpose of injury-prevention.

“We’re at an embryonic stage. The work of this group will go forward to the multi-disciplinary World Rugby Law Review Group for detailed consideration and analysis and to determine practicality, likely impact and therefore which ideas, if any, would be suitable for closed trial recommendation.”

Preventing dangerous high tackles remains a high priority for World Rugby as they look to reduce the number of concussions. A high-tackle warning system trialed at the Under-20 Championship last year halved the rate of concussions.

The initiative involves giving post-match warnings to defenders who make upright tackles that result in head contact and two such warnings in a tournament leads to a one-match ban.

With respect to the ruck, the promotion of space through committing more defending players to the ruck, the ruck offside laws and promoting a greater contest at the ruck will also be examined.

Law amendments, if any, will only be trialed after this year’s World Cup in Japan, which begins on Sept 20 and ends on Nov 2.

For more information visit: World Rugby Rules