Nottingham Rugby Club will this week trial the RFU’s new controversial ‘below the nipple’ tackle laws in the Championship cup, which spans over 43 games.
The laws are aiming to reduce head injuries by penalising any tackle that is above nipple height.
Matt Riddington, a centre at Nottingham Rugby Club, has been experiencing his side’s preparations for their opening game in the competition against Yorkshire Carnegie.
“I fully support anything the sport can do to protect us as players, whether this being reducing tackle height or any other rule changes”.
“Hopefully this rule will give us and the spectators more of a clear distinction on what’s a penalty and what isn’t.”
The new tackle directives have been welcomed with open arms by Championship clubs with the World Rugby Chairman, Bill Beaumont applauding the RFU and Championship clubs for embracing them. Riddington does concede, however, “the spectacle of the sport could be ruined for a while, whenever a new law comes in there’s always an adjustment period- we had this problem when they changed the laws on tackling players in the air.”
This law of players not tackling, pushing or pulling the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball was reinforced in 2015 and saw numerous high profile red cards shortly after its inclusion.
Critics of the new laws state that reducing the tackle height actually could lead to more head and knee injuries because of how close heads will be to knees.
“Injury is part and parcel of rugby”
Matt Riddington, Nottingham rugby player
Riddington conceded that “injury is part and parcel of rugby” he has been injured by dangerous high-tackles which have put him out for sustained periods of time, but he had actually recently ruptured one of the ligaments in his knee from being tackled low.
Physiotherapist Paulina Czubacka, currently working for Nottingham Trent’s Men’s rugby first team has shouldered her support for the lowering of tackle techniques.
She said: “At the moment concussions are too high and I support trying to bring this number down through lowering the tackle.
“If it’s unsuccessful the laws can always change again”.