Operational immediately, it will be mandatory for the TMO to be involved in the verification process to confirm any red card decisions which are linked to the referee’s use of the framework as follows:

  • 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.

The amendment to aid decision-making follows an initial review of progress since its implementation in May 2019 by the international federation’s Executive Committee with the key objective of ensuring that the important player welfare initiative continues to optimise clear and consistent officiating.

Importantly, the amendment also enables the match officials to have full use of the comprehensive Hawkeye technology that will operate at Rugby World Cup 2019 to support on-field decision making. The committee has given its full backing to the process, its implementation by the match officials, and endorsed the continued close collaboration and communication between coaches, players and match officials ahead of Rugby World Cup.

World Rugby is committed to reducing the risk of injury in the sport. The high tackle sanction framework was developed in collaboration with unions, coaches, players, referees and medics to drive consistency and simplicity to the process of identification and sanctioning of dangerous foul play that carries the greatest risk of head-injury*. It is intended to change player behaviour from positions of high risk to low risk, by the promotion of good technique.


The amendment will further promote consistency and accuracy of decision-making, supporting referees in this critical player welfare and match-management area.


*An unprecedented study of concussions from 1,500 elite rugby matches determined that 76 per cent of concussions occur in the tackle with 73 per cent of concussions in the tackle sustained by the tackler, who is at 4.2 times greater risk of head injury when upright or ‘high’ in the tackle. The research indicated that player behaviour change from high-risk tackles to lower-risk tackles, will reduce the overall incidence of concussion for the ball carrier and the tackler.