Local rugby is still digesting the latest announcement from the Rugby Football Union, which has prompted fears of a mass exodus from the game.

The RFU has set out plans to lower the tackle height to the waist and below from next season for all levels of the game, apart from the Premiership and Championship.

The idea has sparked a furious reaction from many corners of the local game and the RFU has responded to the backlash by pledging to send out detailed guidelines to all players, coaches and referees.

One comment on the BBC website reflected the dismay felt by many lovers of the sport: "I completely understand the need to make the game safer and where possible eliminate the head-on-head collisions, but no-one is forcing anyone to play rugby union."

Safety concerns have taken centre-stage in rugby over recent years, particularly with a number of high-profile players talking about the long-term impacts caused by repeated blows to the head.

An RFU spokesperson said: "We understand this is a significant change and the game will have questions around the detail of the new law variation, what it means for coaches and players and how the tackle will be refereed during different phases of the game.

"Detailed law application guidelines and training materials will be provided over the coming weeks for players, coaches and match officials to give clarity for the game.

"By making this decision now, the intention is to give the game time to prepare ahead of the new season."

Despite this explanation from the game’s administrators, the frustration felt in the local game stems from a perceived lack of consultation before undertaking such an important decision.

The backlash has not just been limited to the local scene, with All Blacks legend Sonny Bill Williams saying: “Rugby is not an evasion sport. Rugby is about creating space through manipulating and moving defences, contact is part of the game."

It will be fascinating to see how this story develops over the next couple of months but, if it means just one person is discouraged from playing this wonderful sport as a consequence, it will be a great shame.