Online petition urges RFL to reconsider drastic tackle changes

AN AMATEUR Rugby League coach has launched an online petition urging the RFL to reconsider the implementation of new tackle rules aimed at making the game safer.

The 44 proposed changes were accepted by the RFL following a report by the sport’s Brain Health and Clinical Advisory Group Sub-Committees.

Changes include the lowering of tackle height to below the armpit for all ages, while junior age groups will have tackle Rugby League replaced by touch or tag rugby in a stepped approach. 

The new rules will be introduced at every level this year, except for the professional game, which will adopt the changes in 2025. 

The online petition was started by amateur coach James Dudley, who said he was concerned that the new rules will eventually eliminate contact for all juniors until they reach under-10s.

“By delaying contact until under tens, we risk alienating young players who might lose interest due to this significant shift in gameplay,” he said. 

“Research shows that early introduction to controlled contact can help young players develop better tackling techniques and reduce injury risks later on (source: British Journal of Sports Medicine).

“This new rule might inadvertently increase injury rates among older children who are suddenly introduced to full-contact play without adequate preparation.”

Over 5,000 people have signed the online petition and expressed their concerns about how the rules could impact player development. 

One parent said they would rather their child learn to tackle in under-6s, where height and weight does not vary as much as it does at ten years old.

Mr Dudley said it pains him to see the changes eroding the essence of the game he’s watched evolve over 30 years.

“We urge the RFL to reconsider implementing these new rules without thorough consideration of their potential impact on grassroots participation and player safety,” he added.