Luke Pearce discusses rugby tackle height, believes changes are important - Ruck

Luke Pearce discusses rugby tackle height, believes changes are important

Luke Pearce is a professional rugby referee for England Rugby and lives in Exeter.

Along with our partners at ACME whistles, we caught up with Luke to find out his thoughts on tackle height. Luke says: “It hasn’t been decided if we are going to employ that law or not. In professional rugby, we work in a world where we have medics and cameras all around the pitch doing replays.

“Yes, the game could be safer. Contact sport could always be safer, but we’re doing a lot at the moment to ensure we’re making rugby as safe as possible. In the community game there isn’t such luxury. You might have a physio or a paramedic trained on the side of the pitch, but we’re trying to eliminate the danger of people hitting their heads.

“It’s not an easy subject. I sit on the laws committee of England Rugby and we try to get feeders from all round the game. If we want rugby to continue to be successful then we need to make it as safe as possible.

“This is not just about professional athletes who train every day. This is about real rugby people. Second to that is how referees will referee it – which is also not easy.

“Hopefully by the time July rolls around, and then September for the new season, everyone will have a clearer understanding of why this is going to be employed for the players, and referees.

“We don’t want to see games with endless cards or loads of penalties. The intention is purely to reduce the danger in the game.”

When asked if the new law might change rugby or how rugby fans perceive the game, Luke is quick to reassure and says: “This is not about changing rugby, it’s simply about reducing the level of danger.

“So, in the future if my two girls want to play rugby then I won’t hesitate to tell them to go ahead and play.”

Luke thinks the answer to this is getting kids and academy players used to tackling low and explains: “These are the same kids and academy players who will be professional players in 8-10 years’ time. So, the norm will be to tackle low.

“When I was playing we were told to tackle at the knees – tackle low, wrap your arms around their waist and slide down. Maybe that message has changed in the last decade as the players have become bigger and physicality has increased.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that the law book is written properly. World Rugby are hopefully going to come out and say that almost every union will employ this new law, so it won’t just be an English thing.

“As fundamentally this is about reducing the danger within the sport, then I think people will get on-board with it.

“My hope is that the game will be about scoring tries and running rugby again rather than a physical combat battle. Of course, there are parts of rugby that are going to be a physical battle – the scrum is one and the maul is another, but overall it is about entertaining running rugby that makes viewers, when they turn on the TV and watch it, think that they might want to do that. They are being encouraged to play the sport rather than the opposite of thinking it’s not for them.”

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