Connect with us

Super League

Super League set for major rule change as legal tackle height set to be lowered

Wigan Warriors Hull FC

The independent Board of the Rugby Football League have accepted 44 recommendations from the sport’s Brain Health and Clinical Advisory Group Sub-Committees, as the latest and most wide-ranging phase of the drive to make the sport safer and more accessible at all levels.

This will see the legal tackle height in Super League reduced in 2025 if these recommendations are followed.

The recommendations – which are detailed on the RFL website – include changes for the 2024 season to the Laws, the Operational Rules, to Medical / First-Aid standards, and Coaching / Performance interventions. This will affect all levels of the sport, from the Betfred Super Leagues (Men and Women) to Under-6s at community clubs, in different ways.

Since 2021, the RFL have been working with Leeds Beckett University on the TaCKLE Project (Tackle and Contact Kinematics, Loads and Exposure), led by Ben Jones, a Professor at LBU who is the RFL’s Strategic Lead for Performance and Research.

The use of Instrumented Mouthguards since 2021 has allowed detailed studies of head acceleration exposures, which permitted a number of research projects and Laws Trials, leading to the latest recommendations. These studies have been used alongside injury surveillance studies, which have been ongoing for the last 10 years.

The recommendation include mandated use of the latest models of Instrumented Mouthguards for players in Men’s and Women’s Super League through Rugby League’s partnership with Prevent Biometrics.

Other recommendations which will apply in professional Rugby League from 2024 include a mandated minimum off-season of four weeks, followed by an additional minimum two-week pre-season period without contact training, to reduce cumulative player load.

In addition, match limits over a 12-month period will be introduced, with different figures for forwards and backs to reflect their differing levels of contact exposure based on the last three years of research by Leeds Beckett University.

Independent concussion spotters will be introduced on a trial basis in 2024, following on from the success during last year’s Rugby League World Cup. Recent changes to on-field and off-field sanctions relating to head contact, and to the use of 18th player interchanges following Head Injury Assessments (HIAs), have been updated. This will include the introduction of the Head Contact Sanctioning Framework.

Community Rugby League (including Junior / Student) and Age Grade Rugby League (professional clubs)

These are the areas of Rugby League in which the most fundamental changes will be introduced immediately – for introduction in the 2024 season.

Tackle Height

At all levels of Community Rugby League, and at Age Grade at professional clubs (including Reserve Grade), the legal limit for any contact is to be lowered – from shoulder height (ie below the neck) to arm pit height (ie below the shoulder).

Any contact above the arm pit will therefore be penalised.

This follows the outcomes of the Laws Trials in the Under-18 Academy competition in the summer of 2023 – which were found to have significantly reduced the amount of head contact, and the number of head accelerations.

It is further recommended that this Laws change should be applied at all levels of professional Rugby League from the 2025 season.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Super League