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Rugby league follows union's lead with rule change to combat high tackle safety concerns

8th December, 2023
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8th December, 2023
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Tackling above the armpit will be banned in rugby league matches in Britain to “make the sport safer and more accessible at all levels”, governing body Rugby Football League (RFL) has said.

The RFL announced on Friday that the permissible tackle height will be lowered from the shoulder to the armpit for all levels of the community game in 2024, as well as at age grade at professional clubs.

The change in tackle height will come into effect at the senior professional level in 2025.

Rugby Australia said earlier this month that it will introduce a two-year trial to lower the legal tackle height from below the shoulders to below the sternum across the community game, starting in February next year.

The change will apply to all competitions below Super Rugby level from February 10 until the end of 2025. It cover all premier grades, school competitions and pathway competitions.

The RFL in Britain also signed off on 44 rule changes suggested by the sport’s Brain Health and Clinical Advisory Group, including a trial of ‘Concussion Spotters’, match limits for professional players and a mandatory four-week off-season followed by two weeks of non-contact training.

“We believe (the changes) are essential, as Rugby League must respond to developments in medical and scientific knowledge to prioritise the safety of those that play,” said RFL chief executive Tony Sutton.

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“… They offer exciting opportunities to increase the appeal and accessibility of Rugby League, especially at junior and community levels.”

Rugby Union has also taken steps in recent months to lower tackle height.

Leading UK sports law firm Rylands Garth said last month that 475 sportsmen and women – 450 rugby union and league players and 25 footballers – are now part of several lawsuits related to concussion.

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