World Rugby forms working group to examine the state of the breakdown

Some of the game’s leading coaches, referees, and medical experts will be involved.

WORLD RUGBY IS forming a dedicated working group to consider possible law trials around the breakdown.

With the breakdown currently one of the most frustrating and dangerous areas in rugby, with laws regularly broken and ignored, the move by World Rugby is likely to be welcomed by supporters.

The breakdown working group will hold a meeting next week as part of World Rugby’s second annual player welfare and laws symposium in Paris.

It’s understood that leading coaches including the All Blacks’ Ian Foster and former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt will be part of the working group, as will some of the top referees in the game, as well as data and medical experts.

general-view-ball-and-ruck The breakdown can often be very messy in elite rugby. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The aim of World Rugby’s symposium is to “implement and adhere to evidence-based injury-prevention strategies.”

Last year’s symposium gave rise to the current 50/22 kicking law trial, among several others aimed at making rugby safer to play.

This year’s breakdown working group will be of chief interest to rugby fans, many of whom are dismayed at the state of the post-tackle area.

World Rugby says the working group will “consider playing and injury trends and potential law trials for an area of the game that is accountable for approximately nine per cent of match injuries, but with an higher than average severity in the elite game.”

Serious injuries to the likes of Ireland flanker Dan Leavy and Ireland U20s back row Ciaran Booth in recent seasons have underlined the potential danger of the breakdown.

The sheer scale of competitiveness at the breakdown in any game can make it a messy area, while attacking teams’ desires for quick ball can result in them flouting the laws of the game. Referees are sometimes slow to adjudicate by the actual laws of the sport.

It will be intriguing to see what World Rugby’s working group suggests in terms of law trials and positive measures at the breakdown moving forward.

World Rugby says that its data shows that the sport’s “injury-prevention focus is having a positive impact,” with match injury incidence in elite rugby remaining “generally stable”, with an overall reduction in injury rates per 1,000 player hours at the 2019 World Cup compared to 2015.

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