Tackle Height Law Variation

  • The first tackler must tackle, or attempt to tackle, below the base of the sternum

  • Subsequent tacklers may tackle, or attempt to tackle, anywhere below the armpits  

SANCTION: Penalty Kick. If contact is made with the head/neck area, referees will refer to the World Rugby Head Contact Process in deciding if Foul Play has occurred .


Referees should apply Laws based on the principle that infringements should be “Clear and  Obvious”, if not – PLAY ON.

Tackles that start below the base of the sternum, but finish above this line, may be liable to sanction. 


If the ball carrier drops their height significantly into the tackle and the tackler is attempting to execute a legal tackle, having dropped their height to tackle below the base of the sternum, then they should not be deemed to have committed foul play.  


Where two tacklers arrive almost at the same time, or simultaneously – one higher and one lower, it may be difficult for the referee to determine if the sequence is wrong. If it is not clearly and obviously wrong, the referee may play on. The key picture for referees is that if there are two tacklers, they are at the differing heights of at least below the base of the sternum and below the line of the armpits.  


All tacklers are required to tackle the ball carrier within the required height restrictions. One of the intentions of the Tackle domestic law variation is to create more separation of the heads of participants in the tackle.  


The tackle height applies to tackles made from behind, where a tackle must be made from below the base of the sternum.