Ireland: Johnny Sexton doesn’t hold back about English rugby’s new tackle laws

Johnny Sexton Credit: Alamy
Johnny Sexton Credit: Alamy

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton has given a scathing review of the Rugby Football Union’s drastic new tackle laws that are set to be brought in next season.

Speaking at the launch for the Six Nations, the Irish skipper did not hold back as he refused to sit on the fence with his opinion on the drastic new measures.

The RFU is moving for the tackle height to be lowered to the waist from next term for all levels of English rugby outside the Premiership and Championship.

Not sitting on the fence

English rugby’s governing body is introducing the law to improve player safety but it’s been met with widespread criticism from current and former players.

Ireland captain Sexton acknowledged that there was plenty of work to be done to reduce dangerous tackles, but he disagreed with the upcoming rule change.

“I don’t agree with it,” he replied, when asked about the topic. “There’s no point sitting on the fence, is there?

“You’ve got tall people that play the game, it should be their decision to how they tackle.

“Of course, we have to get headshots out of the game but I think the tackles that we really need to get out of the game are the reckless, out of control, sprinting out of the line, tucking arms, all those type of ones.

“Hitting someone there (points to torso) should be an option.

“It’s not like you can’t get concussed chopping someone’s knees. I see a hell of a lot of concussions with people getting their head on the wrong side, a knee to the temple or a hip even to the side of the head.

“So, strongly disagree.”

Meanwhile, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes, like many, that the tackler will become a “sitting duck” as the risk of injury to them could increase.

Tackler a ‘sitting duck’

“I think it’s super important that what has to come with that is the correct coaching and the correct way, the correct technique, because of the reasons Johnny has just said,” said Farrell.

“If you’re just saying to a kid that you need to tackle lower, then you become even more vulnerable in my opinion. If you’re just sitting there with your arms in front trying to wrap with your head down, you’re a sitting duck waiting to happen.

“So the coaching and the technique of how it’s applied to tackling below the waist is absolutely crucial – otherwise we’re going to have a serious problem.”

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