Referees have been told to crack down on incidents which could lead to concussion in rugby union’s autumn international series
World Rugby has asked officials to be strict when it comes to tackles, charges, strikes or kicks that make contact above the shoulder line
Sanctions up to and including red cards can be used
In a further effort to eliminate dangerous or reckless contact with players’ heads, World Rugby has issued a reminder to elite referees ahead of the upcoming November internationals instructing them to be especially vigilant in this area.
Referees have been told to be strict when it comes to tackles, charges, strikes or kicks that make contact above the shoulder line and to favour firm sanctions for offenders, up to and including red cards for severe examples.
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “World Rugby’s number-one priority is player welfare and the laws of the game clearly state that the necks and heads of players are sacrosanct.
“When it comes to foul play, the game is cleaner now than ever before but referees must constantly be alert to head-high hits. By taking this strong approach, we are saying to players that tackling an opponent above the shoulder line will not go unpunished.
“In addition, while striking or kicking an opponent is never acceptable, it is a more serious offence when it involves contact with the head or neck. Even ball-carriers must be careful that they fend off tacklers legally and do not strike opponents with forearms or elbows.
“While this specific directive is going out to match officials at the elite international grade, we are reminding all unions and referee societies at every level of rugby to take note and strictly enforce current law in this important area.”
All national coaches involved in the November internationals have already been informed of this re-focus.