TMO to confirm red cards for dangerous tackles

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Dangerous, high tackles and the use of the Television Match Official (TMO) system have been a controversial topic dominating rugby headlines for over the past decade.

Stricter laws were enforced in May this year with World Rugby releasing a Decision-making Framework for High Tackles to ensure refereeing decisions were consistent and accurate.

However, calls have been made to further update and improve these laws since controversial red cards have been brandished.

TMO’s to judge red card high tackles

The changes came today, three weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

World Rugby has announced that the TMO system will help identify the appropriate punishment for a seemingly dangerous tackle.

The amendments to Law 6 ultimately give on-field match officials greater support when making a potentially game-changing decision.

In a statement today, World Rugby said:

  • 4.6 If the referee determines that a dangerous high tackle or shoulder charge warrants a red card, then the referee must firstly verify the decision with the TMO. Both the referee and TMO should use the High Tackle Sanction Framework to determine whether a red card is the correct sanction.


World Rugby found that a tackler is at 4.2 times greater risk of head injury when upright or ‘high’ in the tackle.

The study which looked at concussions from 1,500 elite matches prompted the law change.

The law is to come into force immediately meaning this weekend’s matches will experience the new system if a dangerous tackle or shoulder charge is to occur.

Tonight, France and Italy will be the first two teams to play since the law amendment as international teams continue their World Cup warm-up matches.


Most top-level games experience the interruption of TMO at least once during a match. The footage is re-watched to check forward passes, tries, dangerous tackles etc.

Technology has been accused of ruining the game but seems the only plausible option when so much is at stake.

In a World Cup year and where World rankings keep on changing, players, supporters and officials need to come together to support the new law which continues to make their game safer and fairer.


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