World Rugby wants unions to join tackle height trial for community game

World Rugby will encourage member unions to join a global trial of lowering tackle height to below the sternum in the community game, the governing body has said, stressing the importance of reducing injury risk via "education, sanction and law change".

It pointed to trials conducted in France and South Africa, saying they had delivered positive advancements in terms of player safety, while also enhancing overall game experience.

"World Rugby continues to be guided by science and research as part of a relentless focus on reducing injury risk via education, sanction and law change," it said in a statement.

"A reduction in the legal tackle height to below the sternum demonstrates increased safety outcomes while retaining the unique characteristics of the game."

Unions will be free to determine the exact tackle height within their jurisdiction, the body added.

Last year New Zealand Rugby announced it would trial three game innovations for the 2023 community rugby season including a significant reduction in tackle height to below the sternum across all community rugby.

The changes, designed to improve player safety and flow of the game. were supported by the 26 Provincial Unions.

After consultations with unions, World Rugby will submit a tackle height action plan to its Council in May.

In January, England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) banned tackling above the waist in community rugby matches from next season, while Scottish Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) are exploring similar moves.

"The community game is the lifeblood of our sport ... and the proposed tackle height adjustment has already delivered positive game shape and playing experience outcomes in pilot trials - this is essential to the sport's future," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

"The evidence we have, from France in particular, shows that not only does reducing the tackle height make the game safer but it increases numbers playing as well. That has to be the aim for everyone involved in our game."