The legal height of the tackle has been lowered in Rugby League in the UK, due to an increased focus on reducing the danger of concussions and other Traumatic Brain Injuries. The RFL confirmed the new legal tackle height to be below the armpit, with the change coming into affect for the professional game in 2025.
The new tackle height will be introduced in the community game across all levels (including age grade at professional clubs) in 2024, in an attempt to “make the sport safer and more accessible at all levels.” This rule change comes amongst a collective of 44 alterations, which were suggested by Rugby League’s Brain Health and Clinical Advisory Group. Other rules introduced include (as reported by Reuters), ‘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.
“They offer exciting opportunities to increase the appeal and accessibility of Rugby League, especially at junior and community levels.”
The lowering of the tackle height comes during an ongoing lawsuit including over 150 former professional players across Rugby Union, Rugby League and football. The retired players are suing the respective governing bodies, due to having developed neurological impairments, such as early onset dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, following a playing career of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Rugby Union has previously made alterations to the tackle height across the community game, with the ‘waist and below’ legal tackle height introduced to the National League One and below for men, and Championship and below for women. Football has also investigated the impact of heading the ball, with reports around limiting this in training for age group players.