Editorial: Positive move to stop head injuries

World Rugby chiefs need to be applauded for their latest efforts to curtail the number of head injuries in their sport.

Because of the high level of physicality involved, rugby is always going to have a major number of injuries and this has prompted new laws.

All contact with a player’s head, whether accidental or deliberate, will now be punishable as part of a zero tolerance campaign to limit injuries and ensure that the head is a no-go area.

The revised laws, which came into force at all levels in the sport on January 3, will see all reckless tackles in this regard earning culprits at least a yellow card. Any accidental contact will result in a penalty.

But there are now fears that these revised laws could result in a spate of cards in the upcoming Super Rugby tournament and that they could also reduce the spectacle of the contest at the breakdown.

The laws have been controversially received in Europe after taking effect in January in the English Premiership and the Pro12 leagues.

A raft of commentators and former players have questioned the introduction and the implementation by referees.

Players will be punished even if the tackle starts below the shoulders and slips upwards or if the ball carrier slips into the tackle.

The Southern Kings got a referee to attend their recent training camp in Port Alfred to educate the team on the new laws. Kings coach Deon Davids said he understood the reasoning behind the changes which would ensure that all Super Rugby teams improved their technique.

All eyes will be on the referee when the Kings face the Jaguares in their opening Super Rugby match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 25.

In the corresponding game in Port Elizabeth last year, the Jaguares were down to 12 men after the referee dished out two reds cards and a yellow.

Significantly, two of the cards were shown when Jaguares players made contact with the faces of Kings players. Nobody wants the physical aspect of rugby to be toned down or sanitised, but any effort to prevent head injuries must be a step in the right direction

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