High Rugby Tackles: An Exploration of Legality, Risks, and Safety

Rugby is an intense and physically demanding sport that requires players to exhibit strength, skill, and strategic thinking. One aspect of the game that often draws attention is the tackle, a fundamental defensive maneuver used to bring down an opponent in possession of the ball. While rugby tackles can vary in technique and execution, high tackles in particular have sparked debates regarding their legality, safety, and potential for injury. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of high rugby tackles, explaining what they are, their legality, the consequences of using them, potential injuries, and what constitutes a legal tackle within the sport.

What is a High Rugby Tackle?

A high rugby tackle, also referred to as a high hit, occurs when a defending player makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders during a tackle attempt. This generally involves the defender’s arm(s) or shoulder(s) connecting with the head or neck area of the ball carrier, resulting in a potentially dangerous impact.

Legality of High Rugby Tackles

The legality of high tackles has been a topic of intense scrutiny and ongoing rule changes within the sport. Previously, some tackles around the neck or head were deemed permissible, but recent changes have prioritized player safety by strictly penalizing high tackles. Today, high tackles are considered illegal and subject to penalties and disciplinary actions.

Consequences of High Rugby Tackles

When a player executes a high tackle, they risk severe consequences both for themselves and their opponents. Penalties may be awarded to the opposing team, and the player responsible for the tackle can face disciplinary actions such as yellow or red cards, suspensions, or even bans from the game. Rugby’s governing bodies have adopted a firm stance against high tackles to safeguard player welfare and maintain the integrity of the sport.

Potential Injuries from Rugby High Tackles

High tackles pose significant risks to players involved. The head and neck regions are particularly vulnerable, and the forceful impact of a high tackle can lead to concussions, neck injuries, spinal damage, facial fractures, and even long-term brain damage. These injuries can have severe consequences for players’ health and well-being, highlighting the importance of minimizing the occurrence of high tackles.

What Constitutes is a Legal Rugby Tackle?

A legal tackle in rugby involves aiming below the shoulders, with the primary contact point being the ball carrier’s waist or legs. This technique emphasizes player safety while promoting fair play and reducing the risk of serious injury. A successful tackle involves wrapping the arms securely around the ball carrier and using controlled force to bring them to the ground.


High rugby tackles have become a contentious issue due to their potential for injury and their subsequent impact on player welfare. Understanding the risks associated with high tackles is crucial for all players, coaches, and fans of the sport. Rugby’s commitment to player safety has led to stricter rules and penalties for high tackles, encouraging a more mindful approach to tackling techniques.

By embracing legal and safer tackling techniques, players can minimize the risk of injuries, protect their fellow athletes, and ensure that rugby remains a physically demanding yet safe and enjoyable sport for all involved. Let us prioritize the health and well-being of players, both on and off the field, as we celebrate the spirit of rugby.


What is tackling in rugby?

Tackling is a defensive technique used in rugby to bring down an opponent who is in possession of the ball. It involves using physical contact to stop the opponent’s progress and ideally regain possession for your team.

Is tackling legal in rugby?

Tackling is a legal and essential aspect of rugby. However, there are specific rules and guidelines in place to ensure the safety of players.

What are the basic principles of a legal rugby tackle?

A legal rugby tackle involves making contact below the shoulders of the ball carrier, typically aiming for the waist or legs. The tackler must use their arms to wrap around the opponent securely and bring them to the ground using controlled force.

What happens if a high tackle occurs?

A high tackle, where contact is made above the shoulders, is considered illegal and can result in penalties against the defending team. The offending player may be penalized, shown a yellow or red card, and could face further disciplinary action.

Are there any risks associated with tackling in rugby? A: Tackling in rugby carries inherent risks due to the physical nature of the sport. Players involved in tackles can be susceptible to injuries, particularly to the head, neck, and spine. Proper technique and adherence to the rules are essential to minimize these risks.

How can players ensure a safe tackle?

To execute a safe tackle, players should focus on correct technique. This includes aiming low, using their arms to wrap the opponent, keeping their head behind the ball carrier, and avoiding dangerous contact with the head or neck.

Are there any specific rules for tackling in different age groups or levels of rugby?

Certain variations of the game, such as rugby for younger players or modified formats, may have specific rules regarding tackling to suit the age and skill level of participants. These rules often emphasize safety and gradually introduce players to proper tackling techniques.

How can players learn and improve their tackling skills?

Players can enhance their tackling abilities through regular practice, receiving guidance from coaches, and participating in training drills that focus on technique, body positioning, and safe contact. Additionally, studying professional rugby matches and observing experienced players can provide valuable insights.

How does rugby governing bodies prioritize player safety in tackling?

Rugby governing bodies, such as World Rugby, continually review and update the laws of the game to prioritize player safety. This includes implementing stricter rules and penalties for high tackles and educating players, coaches, and officials on safe tackling techniques.

Why is tackling an important skill in rugby?

Tackling is fundamental to rugby as it allows the defending team to stop the attacking team’s progress and regain possession. It is a skill that requires strength, technique, and decision-making, making it an integral part of both the defensive and overall gameplay in rugby.

Recent Posts