RFU endorses new head safety approach

  • New World Rugby law to come into effect from January 2017
  • Changes include amendments to the disciplinary process and regulations

The RFU commends World Rugby’s new law application and sanctions which will come into effect across the game from January 3, 2017, concerning players making contact with opponents’ heads.

“The new measures come as a positive contribution to the game and support the research and work that we do to ensure rugby is as safe as possible, with player welfare at the heart," said Dr Mike England, the RFU's Community Rugby Medical Director.

“It is the responsibility of players to be accountable for their behaviour and action on the pitch, coaches in ensuring they are coaching safe and appropriate techniques and match officials need to be vigilant and strict when it comes to players making direct contact with opponents' heads.”

As a result of these changes, World Rugby has announced amendments to the disciplinary process and regulations that all Unions are required to adopt from January 3. 

The RFU, including representatives of the professional and semi-professional leagues and the Constituent Body Disciplinary Panels, contributed to the consultation process.

The three key changes to the sanction table are as follows:

  • Sanctions for striking another player with the hand/arm, fist or elbow to the head and for stamping/kicking the head will be increased
  • ‘Tip tackle’ entry points have been increased by 2 weeks at all levels (low, mid and top-end)
  • Sanctions for verbal abuse of players, match officials, spectators, coaches or support staff based on religion, race, colour or national ethnic origin, sexual orientation or otherwise have been increased and the definition expanded.

World Rugby have also confirmed that all acts of foul play that involve contact to the head of an opponent (including striking, stamping, kicking and dangerous tackling) shall result in at least a mid-range entry point (top-end in the case of stamping and kicking). This is a significant move and is designed to safeguard the health and welfare of players. 

More information and guidance on implementing the new law, application guidelines can be found here.

About RugbySafe

The RFU’s RugbySafe scheme encapsulates all RFU player safety and wellbeing projects to support clubs, colleges, schools, universities and participants at all levels of the game.

More information on the RFU RugbySafe programme, including training for coaches and match officials, can be found here.

Information on “Don’t be a Headcase” the RFU concussion awareness programme is available here.