RFL confirm which tackle rules will be used in early rounds of 2024 Challenge Cup

THE RFL have confirmed that amateur players involved in the Challenge Cup will start 2024 playing to the existing tackle-height rules before the new ban on above-the-armpit challenges comes into effect for the forthcoming community-game campaign.

The change will also be at Academy and Reserve level next year, then elite club rugby under RFL auspices from 2025 onwards.

There will be 20 amateur teams involved in the first round of the Challenge Cup on the weekend of January 13/14, with ten more entering for the second round on January 27/28.

Then 22 clubs from the Championship and League One will come in for the third round on February 10/11, with Super League sides eventually entering at the round-six stage on March 23/24.

The final is part of a triple-header at Wembley on Saturday, June 8, alongside those of the 1895 Cup and Women’s Challenge Cup.

Because the Challenge Cup is considered a professional competition, it is played to elite club rugby rules in its entirety.

Lowering tackle height was trialled in the Academy competition this year and was found to “have significantly reduced the amount of head contact, and the number of head accelerations”

It was one of 44 recommendations accepted by the RFL “to make the game safer at all levels”.

Others include:

* Instrumented mouthguards, which actively monitor impact to a player’s head during contact, to be mandated in the men’s and women’s Super League.

* An off-season of four weeks, followed by an additional minimum two-week pre-season period without contact training, to be made mandatory “to reduce cumulative player load”.

* Different match limits to be introduced for backs and forwards over a twelve-month period.

* Independent concussion spotters to be introduced on a trial basis in 2024 after they were used in last year’s Rugby League World Cup.

* Changes to sanctions for on-field and off-field head contact.