The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has issued an apology for the “anger and concern” in the rugby community following its announcement last week that the tackle height would be lowered across the community game.
The announcement, made on Thursday, caused uproar in the sport and a flurry of criticism. There was widespread alarm within the game in the UK from figures both within the walls of the RFU and throughout all levels of the game at the manner in which the announcement was delivered, sources told ESPN.
And the backlash has prompted the RFU to clarify the definition of a waist-high tackle limit while apologising to those angered by the decision.
“The RFU board, council and executive staff apologise for the anger and concern that has been created among the rugby community by announcing the decision to lower the tackle height from next season,” the statement read.
“In our desire to act quickly to reduce head impacts and concussions in the community game, which represents 99% of the rugby playing population in England, we have upset many of you who are the champions, volunteers, and ambassadors of our game. We fully acknowledge we got the engagement wrong, and we are truly sorry.”
The RFU said it drew on scientific research, and also the example set in France where a similar limit has been placed. It also drew on support from World Rugby.
But the precise nature of the definition of waist-high tackling has created confusion and anger.
“In making our decision we were aware that France have lowered the tackle height, New Zealand will be doing so and World Rugby supports this approach,” the statement read. “We, like the French, used the term ‘waist and below’; this has caused misunderstanding and confusion.
“We would now like the game to help us define how we describe a lower tackle height to reflect what the research is telling us in a way that is understood by all. Consequently, the risk of head injuries should be reduced if tackling below that optimum height.”