Rugby-RFU to discuss lower tackle height guidelines further

(Reuters) - England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) says its new low tackle guidelines are based on extensive research but accepts that more communication and explanation are needed following widespread criticism of the proposals.

The RFU announced last week that tackling above the waist will be banned in community rugby matches from next season to reduce head impact exposure and concussion risk.

"We consider the decision to reduce the tackle height to be the start of the process, to allow for a period of engagement in the coming weeks with groups of coaches, players and referees, drawn from across the country and from all levels of the game, including the men's, women's and age grade game, over the detail intent and implications of the law change, before finalising it," the RFU said on Wednesday.

The move, amid increasing concerns about how head impact exposure and concussions affect players' health, would affect English clubs in divisions below the Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s.

The RFU announcement has been met with widespread criticism from players and coaches.

"I don't think it's smart," Gloucester head coach George Skivington told the BBC.

"I don't think it's been well-received and rightly so, if I'm honest. I think some more adjustments will need to be made because I don't think that's a practical solution."

Surrey Rugby, a member of the RFU, said it was convinced the rule change was in the best interests of the game but had not been communicated clearly.

"In our desire to give as much time as possible to plan and implement a programme to educate players, coaches and match officials, we have missed a chance to use those who have played, coached or refereed the game a chance to help us get the wording of the law exactly right," Surrey Rugby said.

"If we can use the collective wisdom of the Surrey rugby family to stress test the proposed law wording and suggested guidance over the next few weeks, we will get the right outcome, which is a safer game for everyone and more people wanting to play rugby in the future."

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk, editing by Ed Osmond)

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