Reducing the danger of rugby's physicality while retaining the thunder that makes the sport so appealing is the delicate balancing act facing World Rugby, and their latest step in doing so has been the tweaking of the tackle laws.
From January 3rd this year, all non-deliberate high tackles will have to be judged as either reckless or accidental by referees. Should the tackle fall into the former category, the punishment is a penalty along with a card of either colour. An accidental tackle will incur a minimum punishment of a penalty. A reckless tackle is considered one where the tackler "knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway"
The impact of the new rules were evident in yesterday's Pro 12 clash between Ulster and Scarlets. With an hour on the clock, Ulster were defending both their line and a 13-9 lead. Off a Scarlets' maul, replacement scrum-half Aled Davis came off the blind side, and with the try line in sight, was tackled by Ulster's Sean Reidy.
Previously, this would have been a fine, try-saving tackle. It was adjudged to have been reckless, however, with Ulster suffering the considerable punishment of a penalty try and a yellow card to Reidy. Take a look at the incident here:
Thoughts on this? The new law on high tackles means it's a penalty try for Scarlets!
? @BBCTwo Wales
— BBC ScrumV (@BBCScrumV) January 6, 2017
Afterward, Les Kiss pulled the classic 'I'll say I'm not complaining while complaining' routine:
It is what it is. It’s not [referee] Marius [Mitrea]’s fault, it’s just the way we are moving and we just have to learn to live with it and find a way to work through it.
It’s interesting to say the least, the mind boggles a little bit about it all.
“The officials are only doing what they are asked to do and the managers of the officials are only doing what they think is right based on a lot of people’s perception of things.
Ultimately, it’s paramount to look out for the players, so the intent and the intention is fine, it’s just the interpretation and the implementation of it.
But it’s not a whinge-fest from me, it’s just the reality of what we have to live with and what the fans and stakeholders have to live with.
Does he have a point? Or is the punishment of such incidents necessary to make the game safer?