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Decision made on Steve Ganson investigation after controversial exit

The RFL are totally revamping the rules over the next two years with tackles above the armpit being penalised in Super League in 2025.

There are further rule changes coming around the ruck which many will be pleased about but the biggest change is set to be at the top of the referee set up.

Steve Ganson has mutually agreed to leave his role as Head of Match Officials going into 2024.

This comes after an investigation into Ganson’s operation but no decision was made with both parties arriving at the decision to part ways ahead of the new season.

Serious About Rugby League was understands that the investigation itself has been let go with no official verdict reached.

The RFL are now committed to moving towards a new era with a new approach and new rules with many opposing the decision.

However, the doctor behind the decision has now explained the rule changes. He said: “Clearly a mixed response to these recommendations. This was expected – in a world where new evidence emerges, surely change is needed? Also been interesting to see the general positive responses, by those who have been part of the broader discussions. Here’s some rational;

“First understand rate of concussion. Fitzpatrick et al. rate of concussion = ~5/1000hrs between 2013-2015. Between 2016 & 2022, concussion increased to ~15/1000hrs. Based on ongoing injury surveillance, concussion most common injury. Surely something needs to change?

“Next part is ‘so what’. Does it matter? Do ‘people’ want change? More evidence linking concussion to increased risk of negative health outcomes. Both pro & community RL players are concerned–so RFL should act.

“Also important to accept everyone has a different perception of risk. 15 concussions/1000hrs, is ~1 concussion every 2 matches. Sound high? For a player, it’s ~1 concussion every 68 player matches, or ~600 PTB. Regardless, we should try & reduce the risk – where possible

“Concussion v normal tackles, highest rate (~1.2 concussion/1000 events) for tackler or ball-carrier was contact to head (~12% tackles in SL). Upright tackle & upright ball-carrier is what other studies have shown as highest risk. Note the similar risk high & low for tackler

“We asked (72) stakeholders, inc. coaches, players which law changes are most important to reduce frequency of high magnitude head accelerations (also including head contact) & also be feasible. Arm pit tackle height most important – but this would be challenging to implement.

“During trial, players changed behaviour. Less contact to head & zone 2. Arm-pit height means margin for error, to reduce head contact.”

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