Teesside’s rugby team must get used to new high tackling laws bought into the game.
The men’s rugby union side will need to be careful under new laws designed to clamp down on high tackles, put in place by World Rugby.
The new directive from World Rugby aims to improve player safety by looking at, and punishing, high tackles more harshly.
The players and coaches of Teesside’s first team must get used to this if they want to avoid the sin bin as they carry on their season.
Under the new laws the existing threshold of the shoulders remains but high tackles are now categorised as ‘accidental’ and ‘reckless.’
A reckless high tackle now carries a minimum punishment of a yellow card and a maximum of a red where as an accidental high tackle has a minimum of just a penalty with a maximum of a yellow card.
Currently, Teesside sit fourth out of six in the Northern 5B league having conceded 189 points this season.
With stricter defensive laws this is something that could get worse for them so how will they adapt?
Tom Putt, current coach for the university, said: “Me and Dave have a big principle on chop tackles, so we encourage the players at Teesside to tackle people around the knees and waist, because it’s more effective and it’s safer for both players.”
Dave Barley, community and university rugby coach in Gloucester, said: “We will place more of an emphasis on the leg tackle and then competing for the ball at the breakdown.”
The new laws have come under criticism from writers and pundits however, some saying it’s unclear for coaches and could lead to more red cards in games. Others saying nothing has changed at all.
A referee coach, who doesn’t want to be named, said: “The difference now is that the expected sanction has been put into law.”
“It is early days yet but if we do see a few more red cards then (in my opinion) these will arise because referees are now clearer about the sanctions and probably haven’t sent players off in the past when they should have.
“Referees should get used to the cry of the game has gone soft but in my view World Rugby are correct in protecting players.”
Davis Fish, who coaches alongside Tom, said: “Most of the time it’s not done on purpose but the refs still penalise you regardless and don’t look at if it was an actual mistake.”
“Yes, if the tackle is blatantly a high tackle then by all means send them off. But these tackles should be reviewed with more care than just pulling out a card.”
Recently, the higher tackle has been used as a defensive tactic to prevent the offload but players who continue in this vein run the risk of being assessed as being reckless under the new laws.
This is probably the reason Dave Barley sees more offloads than more red cards.
He said: “In terms of the spectators I can only see the game being more open.”