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England’s Youngs wants ‘clarity’ over RFU tackle plan for amateurs

England star Ben Youngs has urged the Rugby Football Union to provide “clarity” over its controversial plan to change tackle rules in the amateur game.

The RFU announced last week that amateur players will only be able to tackle from the waist down.

Similar rules have been in place in French lower-tier rugby since August 2019.

The rules affect English clubs in divisions below the elite Premiership, second-tier Championship and women’s Premier 15s from July.

Officials say they are required to use the law in an effort to reduce the risk of severe head injuries as rugby grapples with the issue of head injuries and concussions. 

A group of former players diagnosed with early onset dementia and other irreversible neurological conditions are involved in a legal action, alleging negligence by a number of governing bodies.

But the RFU’s proposed changes have led to an angry backlash from clubs unhappy at a lack of consultation over a move which they fear will spark a player exodus at their level of the game.

More than 250 clubs have supported the call for an RFU special general meeting in a bid to overturn the change.

Leicester scrum-half Youngs, a veteran of 121 England caps, is also involved at the nearby Midlands club of Market Harborough, where his son plays mini rugby.

The 33-year-old wants “clarity” from the RFU and called for the legal tackle level to be “chest height”, which would both aid safety and make a revised rule easier for referees to enforce.

“A bit of clarity and help will go a long way I’m sure,” Youngs told the BBC.

“I know all the local coaches, everyone at grassroots level, the referees, everyone who gives up their time for the community game which I go and see on a Sunday, I think clarity for them as well (is needed). From the chest down is probably safe enough; that’s what I believe.”

Youngs, citing other sports with an element of risk, said he wanted rugby union to retain its essential elements while improving safety.

“You can’t tell me it’s safe when you are playing hockey against a short corner; people take shots, it gets deflected, the ball can hit you in the head,” he said.

“In cricket, fielding in certain positions, that isn’t safe.”

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