New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has welcomed World Rugby’s latest proposal to safeguard the wellbeing of players.
The governing body is set to trial a new regulation during the Under-20 Championship in which players will not be able to make contact with opponents above their chest during a tackle, with the change aimed to reduce instances of head injuries and other types of potentially dangerous contact.
The plans have been criticised in some quarters within the game, but Hansen feels the initiative has merit.
“I think it’s good, I think it’s better than below the shoulder because there’s quite a lot of games where you make the tackle and it doesn’t look to be a bad tackle and yet it’s been penalised,” the All Blacks coach said.
“The clearer you can make it, the better – we all know where our nipples are, so hit below that and you’re okay.
“Is it going to solve the problems? We’re still going to get concussions because you’ve got two or three people piling into a collision and not everyone’s putting their head in the right place.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) May 22, 2018
The World Cup-winning coach also defended himself against criticism of the timing of the All Blacks’ latest training camp, which has caused some disruption to New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams.
“Is it ideal for everybody? No,” he said.
“But it is what it is and we have had plenty of time to plan for it, and plenty of time to understand. When you look at the [Super Rugby] results, what effect did it really have?
“We want the players to leave here invigorated and excited … we can get all ‘Sulky Sally’ about it, or we can get on with it, you know? It is just the way it is.”
New Zealand face France at Auckland’s Eden Park on June 9 in the first of three Tests, with the series also including games in Wellington and Dunedin.
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