Super Rugby to trial new law as crackdown on high tackles continues

Referees will issue players warnings for high-tackles during this year's Super Rugby competition, as World Rugby continues its crackdown on concussion related injuries.

When two high-risk tackle technique warnings have been issued, a player will automatically receive a one-match suspension.

World Rugby have introduced a set of law amendments which will be trialled at various tournaments this year in a bid to improve player safety and reduce the risk of injuries.

The trials were approved for the four-year law amendment review cycle that began after the 2019 World Cup following an analysis by the Law Review Group last March and several unions expressed interest in operating one or more of the trials.

Preventing dangerous high tackles remains a high priority for World Rugby as they look to reduce the number of concussions.

The high-tackle technique warning, which was trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship and reduced concussions by more than 50 per cent, will now be trialled in Super Rugby, which begins on January 31, and the Top 14 in France.

"While the recent Rugby World Cup demonstrated a slight decrease in injury rates and a 30 per cent reduction in concussions owing to the implementation of evidence-based injury prevention programmes, we can and must do more to reduce injuries at all levels," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

"We've already seen hugely encouraging initial outcomes and feedback from Australia's National Rugby Championship and are delighted to have such a broad range of elite and community leagues running trials thanks to the support of our unions and regions."

Reducing the tackle height to the waist is also part of the package of law amendments and will be trialled in youth and female competitions. 

World Rugby will also trial a 50:22 kick, similar to rugby league's 40-20 rule, in the America's Rugby Championship, South Africa's Varsity Cup and Italy's Top 12 competition.

The Law Review Group will reconvene in March to review the trials' results before making recommendations to the Rugby Committee.

The other amendments to be trialled in various competitions across the globe are:

* The introduction of an infringement (penalty and free-kick) limit for teams. Once a team has reached the limit, a mandatory yellow card is given to the last offending player as a team sanction.

* The awarding of a goal-line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up.