• Super Rugby High Tackle Trial Will Out Players for Two Strikes

    Super Rugby will commence in a matter of a couple of weeks and a few days, with a new system being trialled to protect players, mainly their noggins.

    While it mainly seems that something should be done to protect knees, the new measure is aimed at lowering the incidence of player concussions.

    Any player who receives two high tackle warnings in a game will miss the next game.

    This seems a worthy effort, as no one who plays rugby will want to advance into his or her golden years without being able to remember the days when they played footy, but the new rule will be prone to referee subjectivity.

    We would offer a better solution if we had one.

    It is obvious where this is, pardon the pun, headed.

    Early in the season, the warnings will flow fast and furious, complete with the ensuing debate about this or that tackle.

    As the season progresses, enforcement will shift to some degree as everyone attempts to adjust.

    When the fan contacts the excrement, however, it will be when a finals team loses a key player in an instance that presents the appearance of a case of excessive referee zeal.

    We have to acknowledge that when the high-tackle system was trialled in the Junior World Championship in Argentina last year, there were 20 warnings issued, with southern hemisphere squads encountering the majority of the penalties.

    One report coming from New Zealand suggested that there are no genuine thugs left in the New Zealand game. Fake thugs, possibly, but none of the genuine variety.

    The speed of the game puts players in an impossible situation.

    What starts out as a textbook form tackle can become a high tackle in a Nano-second if a ball carrier stoops lower in an attempt to avoid a tackle altogether.

    Short of banning contact sports altogether, there does not seem a method for protecting fragile human brains that is foolproof and consistently applicable.

    The international game might devolve into a game of tag, where the object is to avoid being touched at all costs.

    There is some degree of difference between the hemispheres in the physicality of the game. A tackle deemed peachy in New Zealand might draw a red card in the UK.

    The issue of referee subjectivity appears when it needs to be determined if a high tackle was delivered with or without malice.