Rugby’s new tackle laws proved costly for Ulster in last night’s narrow defeat

Scarlets’ Aled Davies is tackled by Iain Henderson and Sean Reidy of Ulster. Source: PressEye/Ben Evans/INPHO

WORLD RUGBY’S ‘zero-tolerance approach’ to head contact in the game began with last night’s action in the Guinness Pro12 and it appeared to prove costly for Ulster.

Thanks to a try from Jacob Stockdale and eight points from the boot of Paddy Jackson, the northern province led 13-6 at half-time in their game away to the Scarlets.

But Les Kiss’ side failed to score in the second period and the hosts capitalised. Tackles above the shoulders are illegal — accidental or otherwise — and the new laws tipped the balance in favour of the Scarlets in the 62nd minute.

“The goal is to lower the height of the tackle and change the culture with regard to reckless and accidental contact with the head,” Ed Morrison, Independent Referees Commissioner for the Guinness Pro12, said this week.

Ulster’s Sean Reidy was shown a yellow card after he tackled Aled Davies to prevent him from scoring a try. The Ulster number eight was aided by Andrew Trimble and Iain Henderson as the ball was held up when Davies went low to reach for the try-line.

However, referee Marius Mitrea awarded a penalty try for a high tackle after consulting the TMO.

Reidy had appeared to be in an offside position but he was ultimately penalised for the tackle. The footage shows that Trimble may have been fortunate to escape a sanction for the same offence.

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There was more high-tackle controversy a minute later when Scarlets lock Jake Ball was also sin-binned for a high tackle on Clive Ross.

Nevertheless, Scarlets managed to see out the game and secure a win that keeps them in the fourth and final play-off spot, seven points ahead of Ulster who have a game in hand.

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