JUST months after the unpopular decision to reduce the number of teams in leagues from 14 to 12, thereby depriving Northern Division sides of the income from two extra home games and introducing end-of-season cup competitions that many see as meaningless, the Rugby Football Union have again landed themselves in hot water.

Last week they announced that the tackle height for next season will be lowered to the waist for all levels of rugby below the Premiership and the Championship.

But this ruling, which will be in place from July 1, has caused howls of derision nationwide, with many saying that the new law is unworkable and that players will retire at the end of this season rather than try and implement it.

A petition to the RFU calling on them to reverse the decision had already amassed 45,000 signatures by last Saturday, just two days after the law change had been announced.

Bradford Salem’s chairman Neil Klenk called the law change “the biggest decision in the history of the game”.

He said: “It is not being implemented in Wales, Scotland or Ireland, only in England.

“It is going to get millions of responses. Our skipper Christian Baines has already said that he is going to retire at the end of the season.

“I asked Andy Robinson (former Salem and current Baildon player) on Saturday: ‘Have you ever tackled anyone below the waist?’ and he said ‘No’.”

Keighley, who visit Bradford Salem in the league this Saturday, have had their say too.

Their head coach, Dan McGee, said: “It has caused a big stir and nationally there has been a pushback from a lot of players.

“I am not a fan of it and it is too restrictive. The tackle is a very reactive thing sometimes and to go low every time will cause more bother than currently, and I think that it is something that will be reviewed.

“Some of our players can’t get that low anyway and what happens if a player being tackled goes lower.

“Going below chest height has been a good rule and has reduced the number of head-high shots but this new law will cause problems.”

McGee was speaking after Keighley’s match at home to Beverley in Counties One Yorkshire on Saturday had to be abandoned late on, with the hosts leading 19-17, due to a refereeing injury.

It has not yet been confirmed whether the game will have to be replayed, or if the result will stand.

The Keighley head coach had had to miss the previous weekend’s 32-20 defeat to West Leeds due to an emergency hernia operation the day before.

He said: “I am at a silly age – 41 going on 42 - where I still like to go to the gym every day and try and keep fit.

“I have had the injury for a few months, but it got worse quickly so I had to have an emergency op.

“It is all sorted now, and I tried not to shout too much during the match against Beverley on Saturday, but that proved difficult under the circumstances.”