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Super League head coach highlights major concern over new tackling laws

Super League head coach Paul Rowley has flagged up a lack of information surrounding the new tackle laws implemented by the RFL.

Recommendations for new laws have been introduced to lower the tackle height in an attempt to make the game safer for everyone with the changes supported by research and advice from rugby league’s Brain Health and Clinical Advisory Group Sub-Committees.

Those recommendations came in late 2023 with the RFL confirming the news via their website, however for some, there is a lack of clarity over the situation.

One of those who has flagged up a lack of information is Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley, the Super League boss using his LinkedIn profile to air concerns and offer his opinion on the situation.

In a post titled ‘Lowering Tackle Height’, Rowley discusses the issue with great balance as he expresses support for the notion of protecting players, but asks the question of ‘what is the gold standard tackle technique’.

“More questions than answers”

Salford Red Devils coach Paul Rowley covering a Super League game

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 13/04/2023 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League – Salford Red Devils v Castleford Tigers – AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, England – Salford’s head coach Paul Rowley speaks to Sky Sports ahead of the game.

One of Rowley’s major points is that there are “more questions than answers”, as he references the huge number of different tackling scenarios.

The major points from Rowley’s post see him explain: “My overall observations are and opinions are that we have the ability to change and adapt as a sport and these changes are non negotiable for the immediate and longer term health and safety of our athletes, therefore I fully support the direction the governing body are taking.

“My concerns are that as a game we have highlighted the problem and implemented the punishments but haven’t in my opinion offered any qualitative solutions to changing tackling habits of players by way of education which in my opinion would have been a prudent first step to take.”

He continues by making the point that whilst it’s clear what tacklers can’t do, there hasn’t been a viable solution or alternative provided that still ensures the safety of all.

Rowley then asks: “So my question is who’s going to deliver the gold standard tackle technique, what does that look like and more importantly how to practice it. Professional Rugby league clubs can sometimes be accused of not sharing information and so how do we educate and filter the agreed good practice through to all levels of the game. It is our responsibility to provide clarity and best practice.”

His post received huge support from other LinkedIn users, including Rowley’s full-back Ryan Brierley, but the excellent points made need to be directed to the RFL.

Of course, Rowley himself had troubles with the RFL last year over his post-match interview conduct in which he discussed refereeing decisions.

The Salford boss went as far as to label Jack Smith ‘a disgrace’, something that landed him in hot water and with a £4,000 fine from the RFL.

Whilst Rowley was certainly wrong on that occasion he makes some excellent points about the new tackling laws, issues that need to be discussed, and so he should be applauded for bringing them to a public forum.

It now seemingly lies on the RFL to offer up some of the answers that Rowley has been searching for.

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