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DLV Tackle Height Framework

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

As I hope you all know, the RFU has introduced a Domestic Law Variation around the legal tackle height in community rugby throughout England. This directive came into operation go the 1st July 2023, so all rugby play in England from that date onwards must adhere to these law variations. Scotland and Wales have introduced similar domestic law variations and the French have been using a lower tackle height in their lower leagues for some time.

We, as referees, are required to officiate games in accordance to the laws as handed down to us. It is not up to us to decide of the merits of those laws.

All the details you require about the DLVs can be found on the England Rugby website, in their new Tackle Hub...

The Tackle Height Sanction Framework can be found at...

The .pdf file and examples can also be found in the documents section of this website.


The RFU DLV Tackle Height Framework affects all rugby in England from Level 3 down. That is National League 1 and below. This includes ALL rugby; male and female, adult and age grade, all clubs, schools, colleges, universities and academies, including those rugby academies attached to level 1 and 2 clubs. It also apply to the game variants of 7's and 10's at all levels.

The RFU DLV Tackle Height Framework does NOT supersede the existing WR Head Contact Framework. If there is head contact then follow the existing guideline and sanction accordingly.

The legal tackle height has been lowered from the line of the shoulders to the base of the sternum. This is lower than you think; feel where your ribs come together and then go down a bit and you will feel the base.

However, please note that this ONLY applies in open play. Please read the guidance about tackles close to set pieces and close to breakdowns, particularly in pick-and-go situations.

The high tackle has become become the responsibility of the ball carrier as well as the tackler. A late change in height or direction may see the ball carrier penalised.

If you, as the referee, believe that contact has been made above the sanction line (and not to the head - see above) then you must decide who is at fault; does the responsibility lie with the tackler for not getting low enough or does it lie with the ball carrier for dipping late? Be aware of tall tackles and short ball carries; the height difference is no excuse for not tackling correctly.

The RFU have provided a flow chart to give some guidance around the possible sanctions...

Remember, there may be some cases where contact is accidental, where nobody is at fault and it is a "game incident".

As you go down the tree, where skill and fitness levels are lower, you will need to be more vigilant. The tackle height is there for there for the safety all all; lack of skill or fitness, size differential, lack of flexibility or mobility can not be used to mitigate poor tackle technique.

Please go to the RFU Website and read the guidance.

The DLV was presentment at the AGM on the 1st July. If you were not there, it will be presented again at the next Monthly Members Meeting.

If you have any questions around the Law Variation, please do not hesitate to ask them. The best forum for this is the EMRURS Laws & Regs WhatsApp group. If you are not on this group, please contact John Wearing who will add you.

On behalf of John Wearing

03 Jul 2023


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