The RFL have today announced the launch of a three-year research project to understand head impact and acceleration exposures in the sport in order to reduce future risk.
This comes after a successful pilot study throughout 2021 and the recent documentary about Stevie Ward. The former Leeds captain has suffered from concussion for nearly two years after a match against Hull FC in Round One of the 2020 season and was subsequently forced to retire.
Furthermore, this continued research comes after reports of a proposed lawsuit against the game by former players including former Super League Champion Bobbie Goulding. The group is claiming the sport has left them brain damaged. They are planning legal action against the RFL for negligence.
However, the RFL appear to be doing their bit to fight brain injuries in Super League today working with all 12 Super League teams as well as women’s sides and community teams in the TaCKLE project alongside researchers at Leeds Beckett University.
This will give 1000 players the opportunity to wear instrumented mouthguards which will measure head impact exposures as well as how tackle technique and tackle height influence head acceleration loading.
The RFL has also accepted recommendations from the game’s Clinical Advisory Group to change Graduated Return to Play protocols meaning those who fail a concussion test will not be permitted to play for another 11 days.
The sentencing guidelines for foul play in 2022 have been amended with further sentencing for the likes of late hits with the intention of providing further protection for all players.
On this, former referee and the RFL’s Director of Operations and Legal Robert Hicks said: “Given the priority of player welfare, Rugby League continues to seek both to respond to increases in medical knowledge, and to provide relevant information.
“The TaCKLE project is an example of the latter, and working with Leeds Beckett University we hope it will produce data of significant value to Rugby League and beyond.
“We are also fortunate to be able to call on the knowledge of a number of medical experts on our Clinical Advisory Group, which has led to a number of amendments to sentencing guidelines in recent years, and now a change in the Gradual Return to Play protocols.
“Our priority as a sport will always be to protect players and make the game as safe as possible, working with all relevant stakeholders and including Government through the DCMS Committee. These initiatives will further strengthen this.”