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RFU to trial lower tackle law in domestic rugby cup competition

England's Ben Youngs is tackled by Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert of South Africa during a recent Test match. David Rogers/Getty Images

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced they will trial a change to the rugby tackle law in an attempt to lower the target area.

The definition of a high tackle will change from above the line of the shoulders to above the armpit line for all games in the Championship Cup, a cup competition for English rugby's second tier.

The RFU has pushed for the rule change in order to reduce concussions, which have been on the rise for seven straights seasons according to their most recent injury statistics.

Concussions currently account for 19% of all injuries to the ball carrier and 43% of all injuries to the tackler, while as a whole, 47% of all rugby injuries occur in the tackle.

"We believe lowering the height of the tackle will benefit both the ball carrier and the tackler," said Nigel Melville, RFU Professional Rugby Director. "The trial provides an opportunity for us to assess the impact of lowering the height of the tackle on the elite adult game and will be a critical part of helping us develop game-wide approaches to concussion and injury reduction."

All data collated from the 43 cup games will be shared with World Rugby, who are doing their own research with a similar trial in the World Rugby Under-20s Trophy.

On Wednesday, The Times reported that the initial proposal put to Championship clubs would have seen the rule change implemented for the whole league season. A compromise was made with the RFU and the clubs then agreeing to the trial for the cup competition.  

The RFU will now meet with players and coaches from the clubs to ensure everyone is aware of the rules ahead of the Championship Cup, which kicks off on November 10.