In collaboration with World Rugby, an amendment to Law 9.13 will operate in the new cup competition, altering the definition of a high tackle from above the line of the shoulders to above the armpit line.
The trial aims to assess the impact of introducing a lower tackle height in elite adult rugby on the incidence of concussion and other injuries, player behaviour in the tackle, the nature of tackles, head injury events and other game events. This important player welfare initiative will include all 43 games in the pool stages and play-off rounds of the competition.
A detailed analysis of this trial will be compared to existing data from the English professional game to help inform any wider approach. All data will be shared with World Rugby to be added to research collected from a similar trial in the World Rugby U20 Trophy competition.
Nigel Melville RFU Professional Rugby Director said: “We’d like to thank the Championship clubs for their support of the trial next season and look forward to working with them on this important player welfare initiative.
“The RFU is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury-prevention. We know from our latest professional rugby injury surveillance report that 47% of all match injuries are associated with the tackle and that concussion accounted for 19% of all injuries to the ball carrier and 43% of all injuries to the tackler, highlighting the tackle as the key game event when developing concussion reduction strategies.
“We believe lowering the height of the tackle will benefit both the ball carrier and the tackler. The Championship Cup 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.”
Bill Beaumont World Rugby Chairman said: “World Rugby applauds the RFU and the Championship Cup clubs for embracing this important trial. The global game is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury prevention and the outcomes from this trial, coupled with those from the World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy events, will provide World Rugby with comprehensive data and feedback to inform our continued commitment to further reducing concussion risk in rugby.”
Greene King IPA Championship chairman Geoff Irvine added: “Obviously player welfare is at the top of everyone’s agenda and any action that is a potential benefit to the players is welcomed by the clubs.”