|The IRFU’s Referees Department will place a renewed focus on existing foul play laws to remove illegal and dangerous collision based contact from domestic competitions in Ireland.
The areas of focus centre on foul play at the tackle, the breakdown and off-the-ball contact. These offences will be upgraded to penalties and yellow or red cards depending on the severity of the incident.
The aim of this initiative is to soften the impact of the tackle and ruck or maul entry by removing should first or shoulder only contact. i.e. shoulder charging with no attempt or a late attempt to wrap arms upon contact. There will also be a renewed focus on protecting players in vulnerable or prone positions in rucks and mauls.
The law interpretations will be enforced in all competitions from U13 age grade through to the Ulster Bank League. Under the umbrella of the Ref SMART programme a series of instructional videos have been produced to inform coaches and players of the illegal actions that will be clamped down on this season. These videos are available online at www.irishrugby.ie/rugbysmart.
Dave McHugh, IRFU’s Referee Performance Manager, said, “This is an important initiative in creating positive on-field habits and removing illegal contact from the domestic game. Player welfare is a key focus in our game and the referees have a role to play as do the players and coaches. By focusing in on these areas we hope to promote positive behaviours and eradicate dangerous foul play which in turn will have a positive impact on the playing experience at all levels of the domestic game.”