Eddie Jones has called for tackle levels to be lowered in youth rugby union to further reduce the risk of brain injuries in sports.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Jones said that while he felt that rugby was “moving in the right direction” on this issue and that he was pleased with the way it was being handled at the elite level However, one change he would have liked to see is that it is mandatory for all under 12s to only tackle below the waist.
“We have to protect and minimize head contact 100%,” said England head coach. “This is of the utmost importance for rugby going forward.”
The current Rugby Football Union rule states that all tackles must be under armpits in U18 rugby, but the governing body is also experimenting with waist-high law in some U-16 and U-18 games this season. Jones would lower it even further for younger players.
“I think it’s going in the right direction. The only thing I would change is that I would say that under the age of 12 [level], everyone has to pack under their hips. Teaching people from an early age how to tackle under the hip and making that their normal, signature tackle, I think that way we can protect the head even more and that’s really important. “
According to Jones, the game “needs to learn from what is going on and make sure we are proactive”. [about this issue] in the growth of sport ”. He also wants World Rugby to put in place a system to ensure that ex-players diagnosed with diseases related to brain trauma are cared for.
“I think World Rugby is trying to do this to create a system where these people can be adequately cared for, and I think that’s really important,” he said. “One would hope that after the next World Cup, where they are obviously making their winnings to keep the game going for the near future, some of the funds will go to looking after the players who have suffered that damage.”
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Jones was surprised at the number of former Northern Hemisphere strikers diagnosed. “That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? If you think about the number of collisions Northern Hemisphere strikers had compared to Southern Hemisphere strikers in the previous period, it is likely higher due to the number of games they have played. Traditionally, players have played 35 games a year here, while in the southern hemisphere you probably played 25, so the number of games, the number of collisions, could all contribute to this. But of course nobody knows exactly.
“I think World Rugby is doing everything right and if we can take better care of the players who have been injured then I think we will be in a pretty good position.”