World Rugby announces "zero tolerance" measures to reduce contact with the head

Governing body details sanctions based on reckless and accidental tackles

World Rugby has announced new sanctions for reckless and accidental tackles.

The sport's global governing body detailed "zero-tolerance approach to reckless and accidental head contact in the sport" which will come into force on January 3rd 2017.

A minimum sanction for a reckless tackle will be a yellow card, with the maximum being a red card.

World Rugby deem a reckless tackle or contact to be "if in making contact, the player knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway".

A sanction will also apply in situations where the tackle starts below the line of the shoulder and in cases where there "grabbing and rolling or twisting around the head/neck area" even below the line of the shoulder.

An accidental tackle will have a minimum sanction of a penalty with that transgression deemed to be when "a player makes accidental contact with an opponent's head, either directly or where the contact starts below the line of the shoulders, the player may still be sanctioned. This includes situations where the ball-carrier slips into the tackle".

Reacting to the development, Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong discussed it from the point of view of concussion.

"When it comes to protecting the head and neck of players, everyone is rightly very cautious now," he said.

"The culture around concussion has completely changed and it's no longer acceptable for players to continue in a game if they're even suspected of having a concussion. When it comes to dealing effectively with concussion in sport, rugby is at the forefront. The International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) supports any measure that protects our welfare and we are in favour of this initiative, which we believe will help further to reduce head and neck injuries at all levels of the game. Rugby is a physical sport and there will always be a level of injury risk associated with it but the sport is doing as much as it can to make it as safe as possible."