Keith Wood outlines the tackle modification that could improve player safety

Former Ireland captain discusses tackle height

BY Raf Diallo 20:57 Wednesday 23 November 2016, 20:57 23 Nov 2016

Keith Wood ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Keith Wood feels tackling in rugby should be made as far below the head area as possible when it comes to potential and future rule changes at World Rugby level.

The former Ireland captain gave his take on a "compelling" and "phenomenal" game of rugby between Ireland and the All Blacks on Saturday in the second November test between the sides.

But for many observers, incidents during a bruising match were one of the main take-aways from the fixture.

"I think the directive from world rugby leaves a fair amount to be desired and I think it makes it fairly difficult," he said on Off The Ball.

"If World Rugby are to be really, really serious about that tackle, it can't be at shoulder height. It just can't. It has to be lower than that. And I know that radically changes the game but if you're looking and talking about players safety, you need to make the tackles somewhere away from the head. It cannot be at the line of the shoulder which is a couple of inches away from the chin."

On the current rules, he feels World Rugby have "made a bit of a rod for their back by saying 'any contact above the head'" in terms of the rigid wording of the rules when there are extenuating circumstances or deviations like when a player ducks or other moments.

In terms of the individual tackles in the Ireland-All Blacks game, Keith felt Malakai Fekitao's challenge on Simon Zebo should have been a straight red.

"His performance was poor," he said of the referee.

"The fact he didn't look at a replay to see what happened... Fekitoa jumped into that tackle with a swinging arm. That was just reckless beyond belief and they found it to be so. Some of the other ones are not that clear cut and that's where the game struggles a little bit because very few things in rugby are black and white."


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