“You’re flirting with the reaper’s scythe.”
Bristol Bears prop Max Lahiff has argued that rugby union lawmakers should either get rid of the jackal or “make peace” with injuries that may result from the turnover technique.
The jackal turnover is when a defending player attempts to strip the opposition player of the ball on the ground while supporting their own weight, with their head often low to the ground.
The technique, while often highly effective, does expose the defensive player’s back and occasionally their head to onrushing opposition players looking to clean out the ruck before losing possession.
World Rugby have taken a more serious stance towards infringements in the ruck in recent times, with red cards being handed out if players make contact with the head of an opposition player where no mitigating circumstances can be found.
Two red cards have already been shown in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations for similar infringements in the ruck.
Lahiff’s take on the jackal.
Despite the zero-tolerance approach being taken by the sport’s lawmakers in recent times, Lahiff has argued that the jackal will always leave players vulnerable no matter what law changes the governing bodies may make.
“If you jackal, you’re flirting with the reaper’s scythe (injury-wise). That’s why it’s such a heroic skill. No way you’re getting around making it ‘safe’.
“You’re bent over-focused on the ball and some savages are en route to decapitate your ass. Make peace with it. Or get rid of it,” Lahiff tweeted.
If you jackal, your flirting with the reapers scythe (injury wise). That’s why it’s such a heroic skill. No way your getting around making it “safe”. Your bent over focused on the ball and some savages are enroute to decapitate your ass. Make peace with it. Or get rid of it. 🤷♂️
— Max Lahiff (@LahiffMax) February 13, 2021
While it is unlikely that players’ safety will ever be guaranteed while jackalling, more emphasis on the player supporting their own weight could help to reduce the danger associated with the technique.
Players are often rewarded for jackalling without supporting their own weight, remaining on their feet by leaning on the opposition player.
Should the law stating that players must support their own weight at the ruck be more stringently enforced, cleanouts would require less force as the attempted jackaller would be less stable and not as low to the ground.