High tackles outlawed in Champions Cup
Referees have been instructed to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to high tackles in the Heineken Champions Cup this season and to issue red cards to offenders in an attempt to improve player safety.
Joel Jutge, the referee manager for European Professional Club Rugby , the tournament organiser, held a meeting with the leading officials in Marcoussis near Paris last week to co-ordinate the crackdown, while broadcasters BT Sport have also been informed of what will not be tolerated.
Club Rugby chair Simon Halliday said the directive was necessary, given the potential for differing law interpretations across the various domestic leagues. “We have to make sure there is consistency and fairness, because that mushrooms – as we’ve already seen this season – into comments from coaches and players, or comments from the heads of discipline,” Halliday said.
“If you go in high you risk a red card. Simple as that. People aren’t stupid. Coaches and directors of rugby can’t afford to lose these matches so they’ll be telling their players, do not go in above the shoulder. If you go down to 14, you are unlikely to win a game.”
Halliday said it was critical to adopt this approach given the legal precedents in the US surrounding lawsuits filed against the NFL over concussion injuries in American football.